Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mysterious Milestone 5

Southwest Milestone 5


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So now we've come to the last milestone that I know of, and it's a mysterious one. Like the "other" P7 I mentioned the other day, this one's located in Southwest Portland. It's on Spring Garden Road, between two houses, just east of the intersection with 17th Ave. South side of the street, between the first and second houses east of 17th. The Stark Street Mile Markers mini-blog makes no mention of it, and I only learned of it when I ran across photos of it on Flickr. Beyond that, I know nothing definite about it. It's a stone or possibly concrete post with the number 5 on it, that much is certain. I assume the "5" represents distance (though we don't know even that for a fact), and I assume that's distance in miles to somewhere, and I assume that somewhere is probably downtown Portland -- although there's no 'P' this time to indicate that. It's not clear what route they're measuring it along, though. The "5" is sort of near both Barbur/99W and Taylor's Ferry, and Capitol Highway isn't far to the west. But I don't know that any of them ever ran along this exact route. I could be wrong. I don't have a handy source of authoritative info on that. If there was somewhere on the net that had historical maps of the area at various times, that would be ideal. But if it exists, I haven't run across it yet.

The milestone is clearly of newer vintage than the others. It most closely resembles the mileposts on the Columbia River Highway, which went in circa 1914. Although they could easily be decades older or newer. So we don't know if it's on the same route as P7, and as with P7 we don't know whether this is its original location, or whether this is the original stone. If it's a stone, and it might not be.

While looking into Mysterious Milestone 5, I wandered off on a tangent for a while and learned far too much trivia and arcana about how state highways are named and numbered. And I still don't think I know enough to explain it properly. I was curious about Capitol Highway, which today is just a secondary road that winds its way rather aimlessly through the West Hills between Barbur (in the area of George Himes Park) and roughly PCC Sylvania. It was, we're told, the route of OR-99W before it was rerouted to its current location. So far so good, except that we haven't explained the "Capitol" in the name, since 99W doesn't go to Salem. Apparently the original full-length Capitol Highway branched off just before McMinnville, and headed due south to Salem via Dayton. This is present-day OR-221.

Or, if you prefer, "Salem-Dayton Highway No. 150". It turns out that state roads in Oregon often have two separate numbers, as Wikipedia valiantly tries to explain here. The numbers you normally encounter (like OR-99W, etc.) are route numbers, a system the state introduced in 1932 that semi-replaced the earlier highway numbers from 1917. Nobody uses the old numbers anymore except ODOT, and they use them internally for reasons I can't guess at. And I think I read somewhere that the numbers on road mile markers are based on highway mileage, not route mileage, leading to weird results when the two aren't coextensive. If you drive across the state on US 20, you will, I'm told, encounter "mile 1" no fewer than five times. In any case, in addition to being OR-99W, plus any local street name it happens to have, the same road is also "Pacific Highway West No. 1W". I saw a mention that Capitol Highway was once Highway #3, although at present that number belongs to "Oswego Highway No. 3", better known as OR-43 or Macadam, among other names (and present-day Capitol Highway isn't a state highway at all anymore.) In the same vein, I-405 is also "Stadium Freeway No. 61", parts of Boones Ferry Rd. and Hall Blvd. are "Beaverton-Tualatin Highway No. 141" (, and an obscure stretch of Marine Drive and N. Portland Road are, officially, "Swift Highway No. 120". The latter two were recently (2002) designated OR-141 and OR-120 respectively, although they haven't put up route signs for either one so far....

Um, how did I get off on this tangent again? We've covered how to get to the Capitol via the historical Capitol Highway, and I previously covered how to get to erstwhile Taylor's Ferry via the original route of Taylor's Ferry Road. As for Barbur, it was only built in 1933 (construction photo here), and prior to that it was the route of the Southern Pacific Westside Line. And all of this is very interesting and so forth, but I still have no idea how Spring Garden Rd. fits in. Unless maybe it just doesn't fit in.

1 comment :

Don said...

When this land was platted in 1907 the subdivision was called Capitol Hill, and SW 17th Ave was named Capitol St. I don't know if that has anything to do with anything, but the 5 marker is definitely not related to surveying the plat.

The marker is nowhere near the borders of the plat, which are SW 18th, Dolph, 12th, and Evans. The marker is not in the center of the plat either, but slightly south and west of center.

The marker does appear to be about 5 miles SSW of Old Town Portland, however.