Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Canyon Road
We call them the West Hills, and pay them little mind, except possibly if we're in a newfangled car that will tell us how just much gas it takes (a sobering amount) to roar up the steep slope, at freeway speed, from the tunnel to the Sylvan crest. But on maps they're the Tualatin Mountains, a rugged spur of the Coast Range blocking the way from the Tualatin basin to the valley of the Columbia and its deepwater ports. 

Time was you had to follow the Tualatin River to the Willamette, round about Oregon City, and then head north, past the Falls. It was a long trip, and Oregon City was in the pricey hands of the Hudson Bay Company. So in the 1850s the territorial government, with private backing by Portland powers-that-be, built a plank road, where the Sunset Highway is now. Then you could go straight from the Tualatin farmlands to the Portland docks. One in the eye for Oregon City and Hudson Bay. And probably the reason why I (and most of the rest of us) live here, rather than ten miles upriver at the geographically more sensible Oregon City. Meanwhile, Hudson Bay is quaint history, and Oregon City drifts into the past, a vision of Old Oregon, with a strange sunset patina to it: a vision of the pleasant small-town Oregon I knew as a boy.

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