Thursday, May 28, 2009

Battleship Oregon Memorial

Battleship Oregon Memorial

Battleship Oregon Memorial


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Today's episode of Unfashionable History takes us to Waterfront Park and the Battleship Oregon Memorial, which is all that remains of the old USS Oregon. As I've said before, I'm not a big fan of war, or of grandiose war memorials for that matter. What I find kind of fascinating is that people went to a great deal of trouble, decades ago, to put this in place. They felt this was deeply important and needed to be preserved for future generations -- and now, well, I'm not going to say nobody cares about the Spanish-American War, but I wouldn't be too far from the truth if I said so. Portland is full of grandiose memorials to this brief and ugly little war of imperial expansion. I've never figured out quite what that was all about.

Battleship Oregon Memorial

This post has lingered in my Drafts folder for months, because (like most people) I just can't muster a lot of enthusiasm about the thing, as peculiar as it is. There's probably more research I could do beyond what I've got here, but if I wait until I feel like doing that, this post may never go live at all, period. Which would be a shame, since I think some of the photos turned out ok, at least.

Battleship Oregon Memorial

Various bits of info about the ship. Fortunately, in the event that you're curious, there are people who are vastly more fascinated with naval history than I am. Actually there was a point where I was, believe it or not, but I got over it when I was about 12 or so. Seriously.
  • Oregon Historical Quarterly: "A Chronicle of the Battleship Oregon"
  • NavSource Online: BB-3 USS OREGON 1920 - 1956
  • NYT, March 20, 1922: "TO KEEP THE OREGON AS A MEMORIAL; But Teeth of Famous Bulldog of the Navy Will All Be Drawn."
  • A mention on the "Bits & Pieces" page at Pre-Dreadnought Preservation,
  • Homeport: "Battleship USS Oregon, BB-3"

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    A couple of links about the war. Which I hope you'll agree was an ugly, and needless, little episode, one that led to additional ugly episodes in Panama and the Philippines, and a troubled relationship with Cuba that lingers to the present day.
  • Library of Congress: "The World of 1898: The Spanish-American War"
  • The Spanish American War Centennial Website
  • "Remember the Maine" at a larger site about "The Age of Imperialism".

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Not too many photos of the memorial around the 'tubes, that I've noticed. Here are a couple I ran across:
  • USA Travel Pal
  • salem-stayton.com

    A couple of photos of the long-lost art deco Teddy Roosevelt memorial on the waterfront, with the Oregon in the background:
  • The Oregonian, Sept. 30, 1941
  • Also appears here on Portland Public Art

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    One little tangent to mention: It turns out there've been a variety of other Navy ships named after places in Oregon. In particular, at one time there was a USS Willamette, which -- ironically, given our local eco-pious inclinations -- was an oiler, basically a floating gas station for other ships. I mention this because it had an unfortunate tendency to collide with other ships, earning it the nickname "USS WIll-Ram-It". Which you have to admit is kind of funny, even if you don't normally care about this sort of thing.

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Oh, and during the Civil War there was a CSS Oregon, a small Confederate blockade runner based out of New Orleans -- which is weird because Oregon was a Union state. There's probably a mildly fascinating story behind that, if I was interested enough to go look for it.

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    This shield thingy you can kind of see in the above phot was apparently part of the ship as well. More detail on that:

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial


    One surprising thing about the memorial is the number of plaques and signs commemorating various aspects of the ship's career, and some that don't obviously relate to the ship at all.

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial

    Battleship Oregon Memorial
  • 2 comments :

    franciszka said...

    gorgeous gorgeous photos! thank you!
    you are a detail collector like me. only i mostly use words. i ran across your page when searching for images of the padlock bridge over going.

    Rick Hamell said...

    The CSS Oregon was a mail boat before the war. It saw quite a bit of action protecting New Orleans, but was ultimately sunk to blockade the river.

    More info: http://pnwphotoblog.com/navy-ships-named-for-pnw-locations/