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Today's adventure takes us back to the Bull Run River, last seen in our visit to the Bull Run River Bridge. I made the trek out to this old bridge because it was built with recycled parts of the original Burnside Bridge. And now this post will help explain why, a century ago, the city of Portland saw a need for a bridge way out here in the middle of nowhere. The key is this derelict building just downstream from the bridge. This is the historic Bull Run Powerhouse, a remnant of PGE's now-defunct Bull Run Hydroelectric Project. You might note there's no actual dam here; the dam was on an entirely different river, and water from it was piped underground to the powerhouse here. Meanwhile much of the Bull Run River's original water was, and still is, diverted away to be Portland's drinking water supply. Give solid practical reasons all you like, but I'm still going to believe civil engineers were just showing off when they designed that arrangement.
The photoset would probably be far more exciting if I'd managed to get inside somehow, but I didn't. I wasn't quite interested enough to try sneaking past the barbed wire fence around the place and the security cameras that might still be working. Plus it's been a while since my last tetanus shot. Plus I was there to see the bridge, and the powerhouse
What to do with the building? I haven't seen anyone propose this, but I can't possibly be the first person to see this building and think "McMenamins". They've become the default answer for preserving historic buildings, particularly weird and unwieldy ones. And they've already done at least one other power plant somewhere on their Edgefield campus, so clearly they're the experts on this sort of thing. I mean, beerwise I'd be happier if some other brewery took it over instead. A hotel of the non-brewing variety would be acceptable as well, in a pinch.
This post has been floating around in the drafts folder for a while, primarily because I ended up with a big batch of varied and interesting links to pass along. Taking a pile of raw sources and building a semi-coherent blog post around them is always the hardest part, and I've been procrastinating about that for months and months now. So I think what I'm going to do this time is just sort the links into categories and let you, the Gentle Reader, explore as you see fit.
- PDXHistory: "Bull Run - The Town That Time Forgot"
- OpenSpaces: "Going, Going Gone: Reflections on the Retirement of the Bull Run Hydroelectric Project"
- Oregon Historical Society: Bull Run Dam Construction
- PGE's Bull Run Little Sandy Flume Railroad
- SaveBullRun.org: SaveBullRun.org
- OregonLive: "98-year-old Bull Run Powerhouse set for preservation"
- OregonLive: "Bull Run River A tour for creatives leads to a new exhibit", in which several painters had a look at the old powerhouse.
- "The Bull Run River-Reservoir System Model", a paper by a civil engineering professor at Portland State that discusses ways to better manage the old hydroelectric system to improve salmon habitat short of removing dams. Which is kind of a moot point now.
- PGE: Salmon and Steelhead Runs and Related Events on the Sandy River Basin — A Historical Perspective
- Oregon Magazine: "The Old 'Bull' of Bull Run", profiling a longtime Bull Run conservation activist.
- Daily Journal of Commerce: "Bull Run dam removal poses engineering challenges"