The Eugene and College Hill Street Railway (1891-1900)
A system of electric and horse-drawn streetcars once criss-crossed the City of Eugene. The image at left (GN4127), courtesy the Lane County Historical Society, shows Wiley Griffin and a mule-drawn streetcar which operated as the Eugene and College Hill Street Railway.View the route the former mule-drawn street railway took through Friendly Neighborhood with this map.The route originated near the Southern Pacific Railway station near Willamette and 5th. From there it traveled south on Willamette to 17th, where it turned to the west for three blocks to Lincoln Street. The streetcar went down Lincoln to 22nd, where it again traveled west for four blocks to Jefferson. It then turned north for one block to 21st where it then turned west a final time for about three blocks to Friendly Street. At the end of the line, the mule or horse was unhitched and moved to the other end of the car to begin the journey back downtown.|
The College Hill Loop of the Portland, Eugene, and Eastern (P.E. & E.) Railway
Electric streetcars began operating in Eugene in 1907 as the Portland, Eugene & Eastern. The College Hill Loop of this service was inaugurated on July 31st, 1910. Streetcar service in Eugene ended in 1927. Click here for a developing timeline of events related to South Willamette Street and the College Hill Loop.
View the route the former electric street railway took through the neighborhood with this map.Streetcar stops appear to have been positioned every couple of blocks. No known system map from that era depicting actual station locations is known to exist. Some identified stations were College Crest Station (28th and Friendly), Arcadia Station (28th and Madison), Sunset Station (28th & Jefferson), and Orswell Station (29th and Willamette). Howe Station was located along Willamette Street and House Station was on 11th Avenue. According to the Eugene Daily Guard of April 17th, 1915, Belmont Station was on a curve of the College Hill line. The Lane County Historical Society has a historic photograph (GN742) of the Oak Ridge station which is identified as having stood at 29th and Lincoln.Evidence of this system is visible in the Friendly neighborhood today in the median at 20th and Willamette. A pair of streetcar rails and accompanying basalt blocks were installed in the raised median in 2013 as a historic reminder of South Willamette Street's transportation past. Other possible evidence is the concrete double staircase on Willamette street across from Civic Stadium. A July 28th, 1910 article in the Eugene Daily Guard announces "Two Big Cars Here for P,E,&E. Railway". The pair of new streetcars are described as "the same pattern as the two small cars recently received, but much larger. Each is about thirty feet long and each is open at both ends."
Although not in Friendly Neighborhood, a second and more recent street improvement project on the bicycle and pedestrian crossing at 12th and Willamette downtown revealed more streetcar tracks from this line. The improved crossing includes rail sections, basalt blocks, stained concrete, and bronze letters reading "EUGENE STREET RAILWAY" and "COLLEGE CREST LINE 1910-1927" to identify the historic use of the corridor. Click here to see a photo. Streetcar rails are also visible in Eugene:
- along Columbia Street in the Fairmount Neighborhood (photo)|
- along sections of University Street (between 18th and 24th) (photo)
A report titled "An Archaeological Assessment of Eugene Street Railway Remains on Willamette Street, Eugene, Lane County, Oregon" was produced by Rick Minor of Heritage Research Associates in February of 2014. It's available as a PDF on the FAN website here.In 2010, the City of Eugene, Lane County, Lane Transit District, EmRail, the Eugene Chamber of Commerce, Travel Lane County, EWEB, the University of Oregon and the Central Lane Metropolitan Planning Organization formed a Eugene Streetcar Feasibility Study Group. The 2011 report is available here.South Eugene resident Roger Houglum described the College Crest streetcar line in a Crest Drive Neighborhood Association newsletter article entitled "Transportation to College Crest in 1918". You can read it here.Learn more about the streetcar history in Eugene by watching the online video Traveling Light: The Eugene Trolley Era produced by the University of Oregon.For additional historic information see Early Transportation in Eugene.
Eugene General Hospital/Mercy Hospital
Across from Civic Stadium, a pair of concrete steps leads up from Willamette Street to the sidewalk. This is all that remains to indicate the site of the former Eugene General Hospital. Built in 1906, it was renamed Mercy Hospital in 1912 after being purchased by the Catholic Sisters of Mercy. The hospital closed around 1928 and sat empty for a decade before being razed in 1940.
For additional information on the Eugene General Hospital/Mercy Hospital, see the web page College Hill Neighborhood and History.
An additional set of steps leads from the sidewalk level up to the former location of the hospital.|
In 1856, Columbia College opened for classes. Less than a month later it was destroyed by fire under suspicion of arson. Rebuilt in 1857, it was again consumed by fire on February 26, 1858. It was partially rebuilt in sandstone, but ultimately abandoned due to controversy over the college's board of directors.
A rock munument and plaque stands at the southwest corner of 19th & Olive Streets. The plaque reads: "Site of Columbia College 1856-1860". Carved into the stone base are the words "COLUMBIA COLLEGE FIRST SCHOOL OF HIGHER EDUCATION IN LANE COUNTY BUILT IN 1854"
For additional information on Columbia College, see the web page College Hill Neighborhood and History.
The image at left (GN4213) is a photograph of a lithograph of Columbia College, courtesy the Lane County Historical Museum.|
Hill Crest Columns
The following text is from A Brief History & Walking Tour - College Hill produced by the City of Eugene in March 2001:
"Development of Subdivisions - Arrival of the California and Oregon Railway in 1871 and the subsequent opening of the University of Oregon in 1876 spurred development and expansion in the small city of Eugene. In 1890, J.F. Atherton purchased a tract of Eben Stewart's farm, formerly in the Mulligan Donation Land Claim atop College Hill. Speculating that he might be able to attracts professionals to the area, Atherton named the area College Hill Park, and plotted the land into blocks with 60 x 150 foot residential lots.
Advertised as "The Nob Hill of Eugene" in the local press, other entrepreneurs quickly followed Atherton in purchasing land on College Hill. By 1903, when the area was annexed to the City of Eugene, five subdivisions had been created and development was well under way. Two columns were constructed at 20th and Willamette to mark the entrance to College Hill and are still standing. While growth stalled somewhat after the financial panic of 1893, College Hill had a promising future as one of Eugene's major residential areas."|
Constructed in 1938, it became home to Eugene's own minor league baseball team, the Emeralds, in 1969. The roof and grandstand were constructed utilizing local, old growth Douglas Fir trees. According to the official Save Civic Stadium website, the stadium "meets National Register Criterion A for its initial and continued contribution to the entertainment and recreational needs of Eugene and the surrounding communities in the Pacific Northwest." To learn more, you may read the complete History of Civic Stadium.|
College Hill Reservoirs
The area of College Hill between Lincoln and Lawrence and 23rd and 25th is the repository for drinking water for the City of Eugene. When we turn on the kitchen tap or water the lawn or wash the car chances are the water we are using come from one of three reservoirs located on College Hill. The reservoirs and green water tower are owned and operated by the Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB).
The oldest of these reservoirs is close to 23rd and Lawrence. This one is known as the 603 reservoir, which is the number of feet above sea level to the overflow pipe at the top of the reservoir. This large concrete tank began life about 1915. In the beginning it had an open top and was surrounded by a wrought iron rail, about 19 years later it was covered with the present concrete lid. This concrete tank holds about two and half million gallons of water when filled.
Adjacent to this reservoir is the 607 reservoir, the large concrete structure with the pipe railing around the perimeter. The 607 reservoir was a product of the FDR Public Works Administration and constructed in 1939. This reservoir is divided into two sections, north and south, which when combined hold some fifteen million gallons of water. This facility is teamed with a larger reservoir near 25th and Hawkins and other facilities store a supply of drinking water for the City of Eugene.
At the very top of the Friendly Area Neighborhood is the 703 reservoir, also completed in 1939. This steel tank is about thirty feet in diameter and twenty feet tall. Its six legs raise it some seven hundred feet above sea level where its red blinking light can be seen from most of downtown. This reservoir holds about one hundred thousand gallons and serves the homes in the immediate area which would have insufficient water pressure if gravity fed from the adjacent in-ground storage. Click here for historic photos of the College Hill Reservoirs.
Originally built in 1945 as Brumwell's Friendly Service, the Friendly Street Garage was torn down in 2004. It was located at the corner of 27th Avenue and Friendly Street. It also served as a Shell gas station. The location has since been redeveloped and currently houses residential units.|
A portion of the Friendly Neighborhood owes its' origins to a 10-phase housing development called Ellendale. This land was owned by a woman named Georgia Ellen Dale. She is known to have operated a showhorse stables named Ellendale Acres from approximately 1950 to 1955 at 26th & Chambers. The original Ellendale development (1955) was followed by 9 Ellendale additions. Around 250 total lots were created.
The original development consisted primarily of a modern, tract house built using mid-century post & beam construction. About fifty of these houses were built in Ellendale. An additional three are located in the nearby Adamsdale development.|
Friendly was once home to one of Eugene's early airports; the Eugene Airpark. The airport's size and location changed over time as the city grew and additional property was needed. Generally speaking, the Airpark was located in the northwest corner of current-day Friendly Neighborhood; the area mostly occupied by Westmoreland Park. |
According to the Spring 1990 Lane County Historian article Eugene Airpark by Louis Barton: "In 1919 the city of Eugene established what was probably the first municipal airport in the state...The Airpark was located on Chambers Street between 11th and 18th streets."
An October 15, 1946 Register Guard map indicates the location of the Eugene Airpark as between 13th to 24th and Chambers to near present-day Polk and Tyler streets.
Ultimately, the Airpark occupied the land between 18th and 24th and Chambers to Polk and Tyler. Originally, a runway ran parallel to Chambers Street on the east side. A second runway ran from near the intersection of 18th and Chambers on a diagonal to the southeast.
It would seem that over time, the airport grew in size but also gradually moved more to the south. The Airpark closed in 1956 after voters passed a ballot measure in response to noise and traffic concerns.
Eugene Country Club
Originally, the Eugene Country Club was located on College Hill. The 9-hole course ran between 24th and 28th Avenues and Willamette and Lawrence Streets. The club was founded in 1899 and filed articles of incorporation in February of 1913. It remained on College Hill into the mid 20's when a new 18 hole course was opened at the current location on Country Club Road. |
KORE Radio Station and Tower
The KORE radio station and transmission tower once stood along Willamette Street near 26th or 27th. The image (GN1330) at left is courtesy the Lane County Historical Society and Museum and shows the South Willamette area circa 1942 as seen from approximately 25th and Olive (on the eastern flanks of College Hill) looking to the southeast. The street to the lower left is Summit (now called 25th). The KORE radio transmission tower is in the center of the image. The channel of the Amazon Creek is indicated by the dark patches of trees and shrubs in the distance. |