Friday, August 29, 2014

SW Dosch & Boundary

Our next obscure city park is one of the more mysterious ones I've run across. I was poking around on PortlandMaps, as one does, and noticed a little chunk of city-owned land at SW Dosch Rd. & Boundary St., a narrow parcel mostly taken up by a stream that runs through it. The map entry for it says it belongs to the City Auditor's office, which isn't unusual for city parks. Particularly for undeveloped places the city can't afford to do anything with, doesn't know what to do with, or has just forgotten about. I'm always up for a new and obscure place, so it went on my big omnibus todo list.

So the key thing about this spot is that it's a narrow overgrown lot with a short stretch of stream running through it. It seems completely undeveloped, and just upstream of it is an adjacent parcel, also wild but owned by the adjacent Dosch Estates homeowners association.

I'm not entirely sure what this place is for, or what it was meant to be, but I've found a few clues. The plans for a 1957 sewer project (around the time the area was first subdivided as "Forest Acres") show this lot prominently labeled as "PARK". So my working hypothesis is that it was supposed to be a city park, or maybe a piece of a larger city park, and the project just never came together for some reason.

Much later on, a 1993 city list of stormwater facilities refers to this spot as a "detention basin", and notes this creek is part of the Fanno Creek watershed, which the city's been trying to protect. So it's not as if the place is useless; it just doesn't have a lot to offer the casual human visitor, unless maybe it's blackberry season.

The Dosch Estates subdivision's main street is Dosch Park Lane, but there's no actual Dosch Park, unless maybe the land we're looking at here was supposed to be it. One of the houses along Dosch Park Lane is the historic Henry E. Dosch estate; the rest of the subdivision used to be the grounds of the estate, before it was subdivided in the early 1980s. (A page at ExplorePDX has a walk/run route through the subdivision, with a couple of photos of the old Dosch house and the surrounding area.) So today's Dosch Estates replaced the old Dosch estate, a twist on the usual procedure where a subdivision is named for what it replaced.

Henry E. Dosch has appeared here once before, as the wealthy benefactor who donated the pair of Fort Sumter cannons in Lownsdale Square. In that post I described his life as

"Your basic 'German bookkeeper immigrates to US just in time for the Civil War, joins up, has adventures, gets wounded, leaves the Army, heads west, has adventures, does a stint as a Pony Express rider, ends up in Portland, goes into business, eventually retires, spends later years as an amateur horticulturalist, when not managing exhibits at World's Fairs around the globe.' type story".
He sounds like the Victorian era's "Most Interesting Man in the World". If only he'd owned a hot air balloon or maybe a submarine, and used it while wearing a monocle and top hat, it would have been perfect. Even his house has its own Wikipedia article, albeit a fairly short one. It's not really that extravagant of a house, by the standards of that era, and it lacks the usual turrets and mansards and so forth. Or at least it's not that fancy above ground. Maybe there are catacombs underground, or a secret lab for "horticultural experiments" or "revenge against the world" or something. It just sort of stands to reason.

No comments :