Marquam Gulch -- Portland, Oregon
How did the maps with so many errors get made?
pursuing a mystery...

1.  Hairpin curve in Sam Jackson Park Rd -- at Marquam St
2.  House at end of Sherwood Dr
3.  Apartment complex on north edge plateau north of Gibbs
4.  Shriner's Hospital, OHSU

In this innacurate map, the streets which don't really exist are outlined in red

The above map is accurate.  The photograph was taken from an aircraft flying over I-5, about a half mile east of Shriner's Hospital building (4), looking west up Marquam Gulch.  (LARGER MAP)

The elevation at 1 is about 250'.  The elevation at 3 is about 700'.

More pictures of this area can be found on this site HERE.   The top picture is just to the south of OHSU, where the Lowell to Gains (paper) streets are located.  The second picture is the hill with VA (left) and OHSU (right) -- the pedestrian bridge connects the two.

Comparison of map with vertical aerial photo HERE.

Another erroneous map

The correct map superimposed over the erroneous map

Marquam Gulch



This stereoscopic pair of photos is for viewing with eyes crossed


Ownerships of Homestead 


Jonh Donner takes out a Donation Land Claim of about 300 acres bounded roughly by the present Fairmount Blvd/Sherwood Dr on the west, SW 9th on the east, Broadway Dr on the north, and Hamilton on the south.  The Donation Land Claim law, attracting people to Oregon by giving those moving to Oregon special advantages, was passed in the U.S. Congress by Missouri senators Linn and Benton.
John Donner: b. 1790 in North Carolina.
Moved to Oregon in 1850
Brother of George Donner of the ill-fated Donner Party at Donner Pass


Sold to Judge Philip A Marquam for $2500.  In 1881 Marquam platted the "Portland City Homestead" subdivision. (Did this include the 95-block "impossible" part west of OHSU?  That seems unlikely because Marquam would have known that most of those streets could never be built.)
Philip A. Marquam: b. 1823 in Maryland.
Law school, Bloomington, Ind.
Moved to California (Yolo Co.--elected judge) with the gold rush in 1849,
and to Portland, Oregon in 1851. 
"Laid out the foundations of nearly all the public works...public highways."
Died 1912.

1885 -- financial troubles

Because of financial difficulties, Oregon Steam Navigation (OSN), which owned the property, was reorganized and consolidated with other land owners by Marquam and Henry Villard, forming the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company (ORNC).
Henry Villard: b. (Hilgard), 1835 Bavaria
July 1874, was asked by bankers in Germany to investigate investments in Oregon.
Ben Holladay's RR properties faced bankrupcy in 1876; Villard bought them June 13, 1879.
...as part of ORNC...Villard was in competition with NY financiers Gould and Morgan to shape RR's.
Villard bested them: took controlling interest in Northern Pacific RR in June 1881.
d. 1900, N.Y.
1893 -- more financial troubles
With a banking and stock market catastrophe about to happen, some nefarious financial maneuvers were taking place.  H.W. Corbett assured everyone that "your bank accounts are safe,"  but bags of gold coin were, on July 28, sneaked out of the safe at Meier & Frank and stashed in a secret location.  Banks were closed on Dec. 8 . . . 
July 2004
We believe we have discovered, in the "Neighborhood History" section of a planning document for Portland's neighborhoods, who actually platted those impossible streets in Marquam Gulch:
On Oct. 30, 1857, Phillip Marquam bought the entire Donner Land Grant of 298.6 acres, for $2500.00.  Marquam did little with his land until the 1880's when he decided to have it platted for development.  He hired the Marshall brothers for their first surveying job.  The area chosen was a little island of relatively flat area on top of a ridge.  The Marshalls divided the land into 200 foot square blocks.  Their intention was to follow the example of Downtown Portland's square grid.  Today this platted grid remains, existing without any relation to the steep terrain of the area.  Most of the area's streets are 'paper streets,' having never been constructed; they are virtually impossible to build.
from Neighborhood Proposed Homestead Neighborhood Plan, Oct 1997
Mid 1920's
The widow of C.S. Jackson (owner of the Oregon Journal) purchased 89 acres on Marquam Hill and donated it to the state of Oregon--the property became Sam Jackson Memorial Park and the Oregon Medical School -- Veteran's Administration hospitals.
Sources of information:
Portland Names and Neighborhoods: their historic origins--by Eugene E Snyder, 1979
Portland, Oregon: It's History and Builders, V. 1 -- by Joseph Gaston, 1911
The Shaping of a City: Business & Politics in Portland, Oregon 1885 to 1915 -- by E. Kimbark MacColl, 1976
Merchants, money, and power: the Portland establishment, 1843-1913 -- by E. Kimbark MacColl, with Harry H. Stein, 1988
Portland, The Rose City: Pictorial and Biographical, V. 2, (author(s) not revealed) 1911
Portland, a pictorial History -- by Harry H. Stein & Kathleen Ryan, 1980
(Historian Harry Hunt Stein can be seen walking through history on this page.)

Adapted from the frontispiece of The Shaping of a City
We don't know the date.  The cable car line is there, and that's a clue. (Early 1900's?)
The red arrow tip is approximately where South Hospital, OHSU is located now.

October, 2001