Portland, OR Flood, Feb 1890

Western Floods.

Portland, Ore., Feb. 6. – The water in Portland is the highest known since 1856, but so far it has been confined to a comparatively small district and has occasioned no serious damage. The water last night was twenty eight feet above high water mark, and extended four squares back from the river front, to Third street.

Early this morning another building from Powers’s furniture factory was swept down the current and lodged against the west end piers of the bridge. Soon after, a lot of frame work came along and lodged on top of it. The pressure was tremendous. The factory building with all its contents crowded under the timbers and threatened to lift the structure from the piers.

At 11,20 a. m. the man in charge of the steel bridge suddenly cried out for all hands to get off of it. His warning was preceded by two short, clicking sounds. The throng, numbering hundreds, immediately dispersed. The east end of the draw had lost its bearings and the rollers had slipt (sic) out of place. The water has risen to such a height that the center caissons cannot be seen, and a very slight rise will carry the water up to the horizontal works. Driftwood in large quantities has collected about the central pier and the machinery about the draw is completely blocked. Huge trees with their limbs and roots protruding high in the air pass under the bridge and are broken like so many pipe stems.

About 7 o’clock this morning a warehouse came floating down the river and passed under both bridges. The roof had been taken off and piles of freight lay exposed. The warehouse was about 300 feet long and is supposed to have come from Oregon City. Later in the day a barn filled with hay came floating down.

Up to noon yesterday the inundation on Front street was from midway between Morrison and Alder down to B street. On Second street the water reached from Washington down to A street. However, at no place, excepting in a few isolated spots, was its depth beyond six feet.
From Morrison to A street not a single first floor in Front street is from the flood. The street is full of water from Vam Hill to the general offices of the southern Pacific.

The isolation of Portland from the east for the last three days was by landslides along the Columbia river obstructing the tracks and destroying poles and wires on the Oregon Railway & navigation company’s lines. No trains have run out of here except to Tacoma; the only other travel has been by the Colombia river boats.

The was in some streets in Portland is waist deep and there is a ten mile current.

Telegraph communication with the East, is completely cut off, except by ways of Vancouver upon the Canadian Pacific telegraph system.

Bridges were carried away at Salem and Oregon City, many small houses near the river were washed away. Communication with these points is very uncertain, and the full extent of the damage is a matter of conjecture.

The town of Wheatland is almost swept away, much stock drowned and a large amount of grain destroyed.

The Williamette river at Tacoma is higher than fro twenty years past. Many bridges are threatened, and there has been great damage done in the entire valley.

Gettysburg Compiler, Gettysburg, PA 2 Apr 1895