Friday, October 16, 2009

Milestone P13

Stark St. Milestone P13

So we've reached the penultimate stop on our tour of the Stark St. Milestones, namely Milestone P13, in the 23600 block of SE Stark. The closest cross street is Cleveland Avenue, about a block west, so we're squarely into suburban Gresham at this point. At the corner of Stark and Cleveland is the Olympic Gym fitness club, and the milestone sits in a little landscaped triangle at one corner of the gym grounds. Immediately east of the milestone, Stark is bordered on both sides by one of those grey concrete sound walls. Concrete sound walls are usually a clear sign that a road was widened from two to four or more lanes, probably no earlier than the mid-1980's. The Stark St. Mile Markers mini-blog says of P13: "This stone was rescued by the Gresham Historical Society and reset in 1987." I think the story is that it was knocked down by a thoughtless road crew during the road widening, and the local historical society had to go track it down and find it a new home near its original location.

Updated 9/10/11: Thanks (once again) to the magical Historical Oregonian database at the Multnomah County Library, we have a bit more detail on the rescue of milestone (or "mile post") P13. The May 14th, 1987 Oregonian had a piece about the milestone being restored to its rightful place: "Historic Baseline milepost saved in Gresham":

At the 13th hour of the 13th day of the month, a stone marking the 13th mile east of the Multnomah County Courthouse was dedicated on Wednesday. The ceremony took place at the original site of Milepost 13, now adjacent to the jogging track at McIntire's Athletic Club, 23500 S.E. Stark St.


The 133-year-old 13th milepost that was rededicated Wednesday had been lost since it was inadvertently removed by workers during a construction project.

By chance, Gresham residents Rob and Bud Bunting found the hand-hewn stone obelisk in a pile of construction debris.

After the marker was rescued by Jim Chase, former president of the Gresham Historical Society, it was nearly lost again when garbage collectors tried to break it up with sledge hammers and haul it away.

When the Multnomah County road department showed no interest in claiming the milepost, Gresham Historical Society members took it upon themselves to move the 500-pound stone to a storeroom for safekeeping.

Ad the Wednesday ceremony, Gresham Historical Society President Connie Johnson and Multnomah County Commissioner Polly Casterline unveiled the obelisk by pulling off a sheet of plastic.

Don McIntire, owner of McIntire's Athletic Club, said he was delighted to have his business located near something of historical significance.

"I promise to do my best to safeguard it," he said. "The first thing we should do is give it a bath."

McIntire said Southeast Stark Street is scheduled to be repaved, after which he plans to build a mound for the milepost marker and accentuate it with a spotlight.

Stark St. Milestone P13

At this point, the idea of a milestone pub crawl kind of breaks down, since there aren't any businesses of any kind nearby except for the fitness club. It would require a flexible definition of "nearby". Or friends who live near the milestone and don't mind hosting roving packs of drunk geography nerds.

Stark St. Milestone P13

You might actually have better luck a mile west of here. Milestone P12 is on the MIA list, sadly, but the neighborhood around its former home (roughly the 21700 block of Stark) is known as Twelvemile Corner. I don't know that area very well either, and I didn't actually stop and look around since there wasn't a milestone to search for. But it's Gresham, so there's bound to be fast food nearby, and probably an old-school tavern or two -- windowless, featuring pool tables and video poker, and full of old-timers who gripe endlessly about the new smoke-free law. Also, Google Maps says that there's an Applebee's due south of here on Burnside. I've only been to an Applebee's once, and I don't want sound all urban and snobby and whatever, but it was just soul-crushing. But maybe you're into that sort of thing, I don't know.

A few blocks further west is the only Portland-area outpost of Abby's Pizza, an Oregon-based chain with stores all over the place except Portland. I'm not sure why that is. Sometimes I get the impression the rest of the state eats a lot more pizza than we do here, but I haven't found any stats to back that up.

In any case, "Twelvemile Corner" is one of the rare geographic names derived from the mile marker system. The only other one I know of is the obscure "11 Mile Avenue" near Milestone P11. There's nothing equivalent to Detroit's Mile Road System. The best known of those is 8 Mile Road, which as I understand it is considered the border between the rich and poor parts of town. Plus it's the state's survey baseline (like Stark St. is), and is also the title of an Eminem movie. As I said, we have no local equivalent.

Stark St. Milestone P13

Stark St. Milestone P13

No comments :