Over 100 years ago electric trolleys began serving Milwaukie, Gladstone, and Oregon City.

Times changed, and in 1958 the Interurban rail line ceased operations. Over 10 years ago Thelma Haggenmiller and her neighbors began working on a plan to convert the rail line right of way into a multi-purpose path. They formed a group known as “Friends of the Trolley Trail,” and by the end of 2005 the property had become part of the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District. Once again local volunteers had made a big difference in their communities.

Last year construction was completed on the segment from Park Avenue south to Glen Echo Street in Gladstone. The Trolley Trail Park officially ends at Glen Echo, but the trail continues south along Abernathy Street to Portland Avenue on the same route the streetcars once travelled. The tracks ran down the middle of Portland Avenue before crossing the Clackamas River on the way to Oregon City.

The historic rail bridge still stands at the end of Portland Avenue, Gladstone’s original main street, waiting to be saved or eventually torn down. Built to handle streetcars, it’s still structurally sound, and is capable of handling pedestrians and bicyclists for at least another 100 years.

Currently the old highway bridge near High Rocks has already been saved and converted into a trail crossing adjacent to Cross Park in Gladstone. On the Oregon City side, a concrete path follows the river south before intersecting with the Cove Trail, a mile long path owned by the Oregon City Parks District.

The historic Trolley Bridge is located a stone’s throw away from where the two paths meet. Restoring the bridge would provide a link between two cities that will benefit both. When the former industrial property near the Cove is redeveloped, the Trolley Bridge will serve the area well. It would complete a recreational loop that includes both bridges, and would restore views of the river environment, hidden since 1958.

The fate of the bridge may soon be determined. It’s possible that a grant from Metro will be awarded next month to study and plan for saving the bridge.

The concept has been well received, but the grant process is very competitive... there are no guarantees.

I encourage interested citizens to contact their local city councilors and Metro officials to show support for the project. On Aug. 1 at 6:15 p.m., there will be a short open house followed by an opportunity for public testimony. Three minutes are allowed for anyone who wishes to speak, and written testimony will also be accepted. The meeting will be at the Clackamas County Development Services Building, 150 S. Beavercreek Road. in Oregon City.

Let’s make the historic Trolley Bridge a link to the future.

Les Poole has been a resident of Oak Grove/Gladstone area for decades.

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