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SOCIAL FEATURES AND NOTED PUBLIC EVENTS.
AS may be inferred from the foregoing pages, the staid residents who made the city were men and women of a morality, religious conviction and sturdy force of character not exceeded by any class of people in America. But it must be noted, in any just estimate, that Portland has been a most cosmopolitan spot. From the first it was the landing place for ships, and they came from all ports. French and English as well as Americans tied up at our docks. Sailors coming ashore from long voyages, whereon they had lived on salt beef, some of which had been well apostrophized in seafaring song, as "old horse," and upon a very limited supply of grog, felt the usual jubilation of the jolly tar off duty, and sought whom and what he might devour. To meet the wants of such men, came the abandoned wretch with his "blue ruin" and in latter times with his scorpion juice. More infamous means of satisfying the long denied passions of the seafarer, were sought and supplied.
Immigrants from across the plains, naturally an honest and moral class, reached Portland destitute, eager, and without the restraints of their old home about them. During the time of gold, men acquired a directness and bluntness, often leading to bravado, [page 452] especially in those naturally ill-balanced or light. The "luck" of the mines bred a feverish unrest, developed abnormally a love, of excitement and speculation, and magnified the desire of gambling. The gamblers of the Mississippi River flocking to the Pacific shore, brought with them their manners, morals and tone, and set up on the Columbia and Willamette very much their former methods of business. They were a class of hard drinkers, stimulating them-selves for successive nights of indulgence in their games, and among the excitable and feverish people who came from all parts, their example was a sort of law. The perverse notion that friends meeting must drink together, that a bargain must be sealed by a drink, that any big luck must be celebrated by a drink all around, that a good story could not be very well told, or very well listened to without a drink, that going off on a "prospect," or a safe return home, or good news from the folks, or bad news either, or getting well, or feeling sick, or in fact almost every occurrence or mental state, must be accompanied by a little social drinking, became all but universal. This was mixed up with so much of good will and human feeling, and anything else seemed so sour and graceless and was referred to as a niggardly desire of saving one's money, and keeping to one's self what belonged to the "crowd," that even men trained in temperance, accepted it as the rule of the West. The inevitable tendency of men from all parts of the world, adopting a course of life common to all, which would eliminate many former ideas of religion and morality, moved the masses toward a recklessness of health and life not before known. The comparative absence of women stimulated grossness and coarseness of speech and manners, and the temptation toward immorality was greatly intensified.
Portland got the full benefit of all this, and from early days was a place where drinking was carried to a most ruinous extreme, and men of the finest capabilities sank under the blight, not living out half their days. Gambling, and other indulgences were carried to the same violent and wild excess. Bloody affrays or murders were not so frequent here as in the mining camps. Even with all these unfavorable influences, however, there was a high moral tone in the early days, and it is said that the bagnio was so discountenanced as [page 458] to be obliged to leave the city. The young men of the place were all in good fellowship, and in time of distress, as in the winter of 1852, bonded together to care for the sick. With the coming of the Chinese, however, further inducement to brutal indulgence was added. With the building of railways a large floating population of men away from, or without homes, and not on their best behavior, came on pleasure excursions to our city, crowding the low hotels, and saloons, the theatres, and places of popular amusement. To satisfy the thirst of such men, came the cormorant class, who live chiefly on the disease and death of their fellows. To increase their business and swell their profits, these caterers to public vices added attractions which swept in the young, unstable and thoughtless, as well as satisfied the cravings of those already indurated. Thus the demand of the vile for vile pleasures led the way to the establishment of a kind of trade, which in its turn bred still further corruption.
With the increase of foreign commerce, in 1868, and onward, the foreign sailor class became much larger. With the rise and growth of the salmon fishing business, the fishermen of the Columbia River, many of whom were of low character, made periodical trips to Portland to spend their earnings, as did also the miners, and to some extent the ranchers, from east of the mountains. Men of their class, from a life of hardship and peril, and social privations, frequently made their trip to the city for nothing but amusement, which meant dissipation of the most violent description. Opium joints from the Chinese appeared, and the variety theatre was set up. A passionate sort of existence without purpose, unguided by principle, reckless of money and health, and even destructive to life, was followed by these migratory crowds. It is always observable that in a time or place, where men are shifting about, and come upon others with different religious views, doubt is thrown upon the fundamental ideas of life, and especially to those of slight conviction who see in religion chiefly an irksome restraint, a general insensibility and prodigality spring 'up. Life becomes easy, free, generous impulsive, careless, intense and self destructive.
Portland is not well yet out of these conditions incident to all our frontier cities. But the time of deliverance are nearly at hand [page 454] since to a large extent the manner of life which first brought the evils is passing by. The mining camps, the ranches, the fishing stations, the logging camps, are not now occupied as they once were by men away from home. The home has been taken to those places, and the fathers and sons do not feel the craving for, not being without, social life, as when away from all such privileges. The railroads will never again be built by armies of men gathered up from the four winds. The main lines have been put down, and the others will be provided with workmen from the laborers living along the line. More than all, other towns divide with our city the rude classes. Portland is not so much as formerly, the headquarters of amusements. The "rough crowd " will not flock here from all points, since they find what they want nearer home. As our city grows in population, in the steady laboring classes, in families, in large business, in extensive wholesale connections, and in the pursuits of the higher classes, the transient and vicious element will at least become proportionately less.
There has been a noticeable improvement in the tone of the people as to temperance since the earlier years. It is not now, as then, the fashion for the leading public men to drink to the point of intoxication, and to excite the entire place by their excesses. There is at least much more conventional, and probably much more actual restraint of the appetites.
Along with this state of private vice, public corruption exists only too extensively, crime against the ballot and complaint against the officers of the law, being only too common.
The above is a fair, concise statement of the immorality of Portland. We have preferred to thus sketch it boldly, thinking it improper in any one attempting to write a history to omit any facts which go to work up a complete view of the subject. Perhaps the worst feature of it all has been a weak acquiesence in all this on the part of the better classes as something necessary and inevitable, or at least profitable.
On the other hand there is much hope for future improvement. The general stability and growth of the State, and the fashion that reprehends excess have already been spoken of. A strong effort to [page 455] improve the sanitary conditions of the city; an intelligent interest in education; great activity on the part of benevolent societies and the churches; and at least the dawning perception that that which is destructive of human life, happiness and activity cannot be of any use, in any way, to a great and flourishing city, are signs of progress toward the higher civil order, not only of the old East, but of the great new West of the future. A general denunciation of political corruption and official negligence and connivance with crime, goes to the same end.
It must always be remembered, in charity, that a commercial city has great evils to contend with, not of its own seeking, and most difficult to eradicate.
In the face of all that has been said above, the general quiet and tranquillity, and good order of the place is quite marked. Affairs of blood are not common; house breaking, violent robbery, or affrays are but few. Popular tumults are unknown. The order in processions, or excursions, or in public assemblies is good. A general spirit of urbanity and civility prevails, and the virtue of hospitality is nowhere more marked.
For particulars in the special field of schools, churches, and societies, the reader is referred to the chapter under these headings. He will find by such reference that large and wide endeavors are made toward mental culture and moral melioration.
PUBLIC EVENTS OF INTEREST.
While the people of Portland are not mercurial or exciteable, and by Californians, or people " east of the mountains," are even accused of being lymphatic, if not somnolent, they are much given and have been from the earliest times inclined to recreations and public amusements. The two forms in which all are ready to unite as obnoxious to the feelings of none are the excursion and the procession. Oregonians having crossed the plains or doubled the Cape early learned the pleasures of traveling, and it is almost universal custom to take an annual trip here and yonder. [page 456]
From Portland, excursions by water are easily made to points up and down the river. In the Cascade Mountains, and on the coast are nooks and corners of the rarest beauty and scenery upon the most ample and lofty scale. As the summer comes, picnics for the Sunday schools and churches follow each other week after week, preferably on Saturdays, loaded steamboats or trains speeding out in the clear of the morning and returning in the cool of the evening, or by moonlight. Sunday excursions are exceedingly popular, particularly among the foreign population, and these usually have their accompainment of music. Rides on the river boats or on the trains to near points are much indulged in as a recreation of a few hours. Points thus frequented near at hand are, Vancouver, Mt. Tabor, Ross Island, and The White House, a few miles south on the Macadam road, a particularly popular terminus for carriage drives; River View Cemetery on the southern boundary of the city, Oswego and Oregon City. These places are frequently thronged Sundays, not so much by large companies, as by individuals, small parties and families. The young men of the city quite generally spend the Sabbath day in driving, boating, hunting or fishing, at a distance of 5 to 40 miles from town and the transportation companies favor them with reduced fares.
The regular summer vacations are spent chiefly at the seashore. The beaches at the mouth of the Columbia River are the places of most frequent resort. These are: the Ilwaco or North Beach, in Pacific County, Washington, on the weather shore from Shoalwater. Bay, and Clatsop Beach, leading down to the seaside near Tillamook head. Both are magnificent expanses of wave-beaten sand with delightful surroundings of meadows and grasses. Each has its advocates and advantages. They are reached by steamers on the Columbia and both are supplied with railroad facilities from the point of debarkation.
As the heat of summer becomes oppressive in the Willamette Valley, and the freshet of the Columbia threatens malaria, the coast-bound steamers are loaded with men and women, and particularly children. At the sea-shore they live largely in tents. Many own lots at the ephemeral cities and have their own cottages, although [page 457] there are accommodations at the hotels. A few weeks or months, breathing the salt air and of salt water bathing are certainly of great advantage to the health, and those thus spending the hot months preserve their strength throughout the year. This is particularly the family method. Yaquina Bay, reached by the Oregon Central Railroad and by the Oregon Pacific, is also sought to some extent for the same purpose. To those desiring more exciting recreation the peaks of the Cascade Mountains prove inviting; they afford all the beauties of precipices, crevasses, snow-fields and glaciers, and the perils of Alpine climbing. Mt. Hood is the greatest attraction, being the nearest and most familiar. Rev. Dr. Atkinson, of Portland, and Prof. Woods, the botanist, were among the first to make the ascent. Many others from Portland have followed. Rev. Mr. Izer, pastor of the Taylor Street Methodist Church was the first to carry to the top an iron chest for holding papers, names of those ascending, etc. Several young ladies of this city, among them Miss Libby Vaughn, have stood upon the summit. This is no small feat, the mountain being about 11, 000 feet in height, and the last 1,000 feet of the climb very heavy. Rev. Dr. T. L. Eliot, of Portland, is much at home on this old volcano, and one of the glaciers bears his name. Some of the young men of the city have been in the habit of illuminating this mountain with red fire on the night of July 4th. As this is early in the season to climb the snowy sides, the lower peaks not yet being wholly denuded by the hot suns of summer, the enterprise is quite difficult. Nevertheless, it has been done quite successfully, a party consisting of Messrs. Yocum, J. M. Breck, Jr., Dr. J. M. Keene, and several others first accomplishing the task. The fire was seen over the valley to the intense admiration of the people and illustrations of the mountain thus lit up were made in leading papers of the east.
The gorge of the Columbia, with its Latourelle, Multnomah, and Horse-tail Falls, and its Oneonta canyon, with the Cascade Mountains themselves, are most inviting, and to the artist no less than to the common excursionist, prove wonderful. Mount St. Helens has been an object of attraction to the Alpine Club of this city, the members of which recently played snow-ball upon its [page 458] mosque-like top. Mount Adams and Rainier, although the finest and most curious of all, are too much removed to be frequented by the men of Portland; they will ultimately, however, come into due appreciation. For those bent on wider exploits, Alaska offers immense attraction, and is not unknown to our citizens, many visiting its shores on business or pleasure. The Sandwich Islands have also been a spot of popular attention by our people. Regular trips are made to California, and to the old Eastern and Southern homes; while as elsewhere among Americans, the more wealthy take an occasional journey to Europe. The health, culture, refinement and mental and moral quickening, derived from these less and greater evolutions and revolutions, probably more than balance the dissipation, hardening of the heart, and the restlessness that they induce.
As popular festivities and celebrations in the city, the ordinary homely American feasts and jubilations are observed. The New England fasts have been suffered to lapse, and the Carnival and Mardi Gras, although sometimes tried a little, have never been general. There is something that sticks in the throat of our dignity to deliver ourselves up to uncontrolable mirth, unless first unbending by the mellowness of drink; but this is held to be disreputable, at least to the point of intoxication. No more than other Americans or Teutons can Portlanders abandon themselves gracefully to their animal feelings; but if attempting it, fall into gross riot and rude license. Washington's birthday, by balls; Decoration Day, by military parades, speeches and floral displays; the Fourth of July, by explosives, processions, orations and pyrotechnics; the Autumn harvest, by fairs, or particularly the Exposition, lasting twenty days; Thanksgiving day, by sermons in the churches, and family reunions at home; the Christmas time "The Holidays, " by special decoration of the shops and stores; by "trees" at home and in the churches, and by musical festivities-these all come around in order and in truth afford a refined source of pleasure. There is not an excess of rudeness connected with even the most noisy, and on the whole they are profitably enjoyed. Probably there is little that is unique or peculiar to Portland in any of them, but as a part of the [page 459] culture of the people, they show no sign of dying out. The reunion of the Oregon Pioneers in June, which usually takes place in Portland, may become a special feature of the country, as the Pioneer Association passes on to the descendants of the early Oregonians. The "Native Sons," "The Alpine Club," the "Indian War Veterans," or other organizations peculiar to this State, may give some day a feast that will add to the usual stock of American holidays in our city.
A remarkable Fourth of July is spoken of as having occurred in 1861. This was during the days when the fires of patriotism burned brightly, and a general depression of spirits and anxiety of the public mind, as well as an imagination excited by constant reading of preparations for war, led the way to a great celebration. The firing of cannon during the day and orations by able speakers, was succeeded at night by a display of fireworks, which was regarded by every one with respect. To most of the spectators it was magnificent, being far superior to anything they had ever seen even in "Old Missouri." Country people came in for miles around to witness the views, and the woods were thick with their camps.
Since that day the demand for rockets, roman candles, etc., has been sufficient to keep at least one resident pyrotechnist in the city, and the burning of fizzes and red fire, and illumination of the river at night by fire-boats, has been a more or less regular circumstance of the day. In 1869, Geo. Francis Train was present on Independence Day, and his oratory, and the man himself, as a specimen of a great man of the East, brought in crowds to see and hear, and excited a vast deal of old-time curiosity. In recent years, as mentioned above, the illumination of Mount Hood has been added as a sort of good night at 11:00 P. m., and in the near future we may expect to see electric lights, the power of some millions of candles, touched off on each of the great snow peaks at the close of the exercises.
Portland has an enviable reputation for processions. Scarcely a day passes but thick or thin files of men, accompanied by drum and brass band and banners, march to and fro. The most of these are of orders or combinations of men who work, and of those who do [page 460] not, who desire to emphasize some feature of their political or economical creed as to wages, or the Mongolian, or else of showmen or of religious enthusiasts, as the Salvation Army.
On occasions, however, the city has made processional displays of such a character as to excite high encomiums from all. The celebration of the completion of the N. P. R. R., in 1883, and the welcome to Villard and his guests, was an affair of great good taste and significance. No history of the place would be complete without giving it a fair place; accordingly we insert the salient features as they were depicted at the time by the Oregonian:
The main thoroughfares of Portland never presented a more animated appearance than on yesterday. Flags and garlands fluttered from hundreds of buildings, and a small army of men and boys were engaged in decorating and beautifying stores and dwellings in all parts of the town. Myriads of ladies and children in gaudy colored dresses materially heightened the effect of the gorgeous scene. The main attraction was First street, from A to Salmon, where regular colonnades had been established, flanked on either side with garlands of evergreens and elaborately festooned bunting, which had been arranged in an artistic and picturesque manner. Near the corner of First and A streets an arch representing the entrance to a feudal castle had been erected with such fidelity to nature that it elicited expressions of admiration from visitors and residents alike. The arch is surmounted with towers, and is elegantly adorned with evergreens, streamers, flags and bunting. On either side the word "Welcome" in evergreen stands out in bold relief. Statues emblematical of Europe, Asia, Africa and America are placed in such a way as to give the spectator the idea that the statues are standing in niches. The whole is elaborately finished, and reflects great credit on the artist.
The middle arch on the corner of First and Alder streets is a specimen of pure Gothic architecture, and is also finished and decorated in an elaborate manner. It is surmounted by beautiful American flags.
The arch at the corner of First and Salmon streets is of the Roman order, and is ornamented in an elaborate manner with flags, battle-axes, hunting, etc. Banners have been suspended along the whole line, bearing upon them the names of gentlemen who are either officers or directors of the Northern Pacific Railroad, or guests of Mr. Villard.
The coming of the visitors was in the nature of a triumphal march, and Villard had taken the greatest pains to secure the presence of distinguished men from all parts of the Union and from England and Germany. The journey from St. Paul to Portland is described as a continuous ovation. At every point of importance the citizens made demonstrations of welcome, speeches were made; and compliments of all kinds were exchanged. The honors of [page 461] Caesar Augustus were lavished upon the man who had performed the work of finishing the road. As the train sped by through the Dakotas, cow-boys followed along racing with the train and exhibiting feats of horsemanship and daring. It was especially arranged for Indians to be present at stopping places along the way and they were inspected with great curiosity by the visitors. The scenery was passed at the best advantage, and the party was conveyed in four different trains, running severally about half an hour apart. The first section contained Mr. Villard, his private car, and the private car occupied by his most distinguished foreign guests. The second consisted of eight private cars, two of which belonged to Mr. Robert Harris, a director of the Northern Pacific Railroad Company; another was occupied by Geo. M. Pullman and party, and the car of ex-president Billings was attached in the rear. General Grant occupied a car with Secretary Evarts, General Cass, General Haupt, and various others. The third section was made up of ten cars, for American guests; and the fourth of ten Pullman cars was occupied by representatives of the newspaper press.
Full accounts of the progress of the trains were dispatched to our city, and at the prospect of men of such positive ability and standing as the guests mentioned coming to see the end of the work and to congratulate our State, all our citizens rose to the full requirement of the occasion. It was one of those rare times in the history of a place when the entire population was drawn out by one sympathetic impulse and most cheerfully did each do his best to show his appreciation of the hour. There has been much discussion of Mr. Villard's abilities and general caliber. But in nothing did he show more perfect good taste and administrative facility than in the conduct of this excursion and celebration. The Northern Pacific had been for more than twenty years a subject profoundly interesting to the people of the Eastern States, upon grounds of economics, of politics and patriotism. With the best of judgment Villard concluded that in no way could the consummation of the building of this road be better celebrated than by the presence here of representative men of the nation. To give still further emphasis to this idea he invited noted men of England, and of his own native [page 462] Germany. His own efforts were confined to securing the presence of these men and affording them the privileges of guests upon his trains, and making the completion of his work the occasion of the meeting and acquaintance of great men of the three great Teutonic nations.
The following general description of the day and procession is taken from the Oregonian of September 12, 1883:
"If Portland was filled with people Monday morning, she was overflowing yesterday. It was a veritable Fourth of July, on a grand scale, without any of the deafening noise or disagreeable features. From early in the morning until afternoon the country folk pressed into town through every entrance, and, as if to welcome them, merry bells and loud mouthed whistles sounded forth upon the morning air. Everything on wheels was brought into service, to transport the holiday seekers through the streets of the city. Business was almost entirely suspended and every-body thronged the streets along the line of march. From across the river came the whole population of East Portland. Street cars on all the lines were crowded; restaurants ran a double force of waiters to feed the hungry populace. Every. one was moving after the usual American style of rushing. Any estimate of the number of people in the city would either be considered the wildest kind of a guess, or fall far short of the truth. Not to be enthusiastic, the display yesterday was the grandest sight that Portland ever witnessed; not one of the grandest, but the very greatest of them all. As for the weather, it was simply perfect. The light rain of the past few days had effectually subdued the summer dust, and the streets were in fine marching condition. The air was clear, bracing and mildly warm, while light fleecy clouds obscured the sun just enough to afford a gentle screen, for which every one was grateful.
As the hour for the parade grew nigh, the crowd packed most densely along Fourth street, up to the corner of Court House square. Here was the grand stand for the distinguished guests of Mr. Villard, before whom the entire procession was to march and counter-march in review. At this point the eyes of the people were fairly divided between the great men and the parade gotten up in their honor. Ropes stretched across the street kept back the crowd from the main entrance of the Court House, where the carriages stopped with their load of guests. Ranged along the side walks across the street from the grand stand were three rows of benches, and upon them were seated families of the members of the City Council, of the city officials, and many old pioneers, who would otherwise have had no chance to view the great scene which their earlier labors had done so much to bring about. Of the whole procession, their husbands and fathers formed the most noticeable part.
"Those against whose familiar names not yet The fatal asterisk of death is set,"
upon the records of the Oregon Pioneer Society-a handful of men, fine, sturdy and full of vigor, but now for the most part grey and bent with age-fitly led the van of the parade, as years before they had led the van of civilization, of which the Northern [page 463] Pacific Railroad is the outgrowth. Honored veterans of frontier life, all of them, and representatives of the near past, but without which the present would be impossible. Among those whose faces were familiar to thousands as they led the greatest parade ever witnessed on the northwest coast, were Nesmith and Crawford, Gray and Pettygrove and Parrish, and many others whose names may be less known, but not less prized among them all. Tears came to many eyes as these men, with heard and hair whitened by the frost of time filed slowly by, and the thoughts of many reverted to lowly mounds which swell above the honored dust of Lane, Meek, Payne, Fletcher, Scott, Newsome, Geer and Kinney, a host not less honored than the remaining handful who still answer to the pioneer roll-call, and vastly more numerous.
Renewing these thoughts, although in a far lighter vain, was the picturesque outfit that closed the whole procession. These were the train of emigrant wagons dilapitated and worn, the mud-splashed oxen and a dozen bare-footed and dirty faced children to each pater familias. That the picture was true to life none knew better than the old pioneers in the van, and when the two divisions passed each other on the counter march, the shout of recognition which went up from each was loud and long. That a band of painted savages --genuine Indians of the Warm Spring tribe-- should follow the train of emigrants, seemed correct and proper, and when the blood-curdling yells rang out as it did occasionally, the realization was complete.
As the pioneers passed the grand stand the second time, they halted in a group before Mr. Villard and gave a rousing hurrah! C. H. Dodd, who was on the stand, rose to his feet and called for three cheers for the pioneers of Oregon. This was responded to heartily by hundreds of people, including the invited guests."
The procession occupied an hour and a half in passing the grand stand.
Somewhat more particularly, the procession was made up into five divisions with the special division of pioneers in the lead. There were about one hundred of these, under the lead of Capt. Medoram Crawford, of Dayton, who came to Oregon in 1812, but is one of the strongest, most hearty, and least worn in appearance of any of the others of the pioneers. Very interesting in this group were F. W. Pettygrove, one of the founders of Portland, from Port Townsend; and W. H. Gray, who came in 1836, and wrote the first comprehensive history of the Northwest. To the visitors, both from the East, and from Europe, these men were of the greatest interest, and by the later Oregonians they were looked upon with many feelings of emotion,
The first division was made up entirely of officers and soldier of the United States army from Fort Vancouver. They drew marked attention for their neatness of appearance and precision of march. [page 464]
The second division was led by Mr. Geo. H. Durham, of our city, a gentleman of military training, and consisted of emblematic cars of the interests of the city, led, however, by a band of Oregon militia from Dallas, together with children of the Indian training school, then at Forest Grove. A notable feature of this division was the lumber and timber display-fir, cedar and spruce timber of large dimensions. A section of a fir log, eighty inches in diameter, and the stump of a forest giant which a woodman was chopping upon as if in process of felling a tree, being among the number. This proved universally attractive.
The third division was made up entirely of the Oregon militia led by Brigadier General Wm. Kapus. There were some eight companies, led by the Second United States Infantry band, and they proved to be in excellent drill, and made a striking appearance.
The fourth division consisted of emblematic cars of Oregon products and industries. One very pretty piece was a large boat, representative of commerce, decorated with red, white and blue streamers, with sail set, manned with youthful sailors, while at the helm sat Miss Marquam, a handsome illustration of the fleet-winged goddess. Cars of flour, coal, saddlery work, lime, stone, cooper work, and spice mills followed this. This division was led by Dr. S. J. Barker.
The fifth division, marshaled by Captain N. J. Morris, one of the Grand Army, and of Mexican War veterans; a troupe of cowboys, the fire brigades, and a large number of emblematic cars with furniture, ice, a company of stevedores, specimens of iron work from engines and boilers; and much other interesting work. In this the German citizens made a most interesting and characteristic display; and of all the trains, this was the most extensive.
At the end were the immigrant wagons led by a woman riding on a pony in the same manner that she had crossed the plains two-score years before; and these were followed by the Indians-all most true to life.
The whole procession was under the command of General Morrow. [page 465]
This was all, so to say, the greeting and welcome of the city, and was kindly and generously received by Villard and the guests. As the president of the road and the real hero of the occasion, the former bore himself with remarkably good taste and modesty, seeming, although much gratified by the results of his labors, somewhat oppressed by the credit given him, and as if but little desirous of so much appreciation. Nevertheless, in all points he was responsive and gracious to these attentions.
In the evening the scene was transferred to the old Mechanic's Pavilion on Third street, the largest building then in the city, which was very gaudily, but tastefully, decorated, having also a large display of wealth and art. A crowded house here formally welcomed Mr. Villard and his guests; Hon. H. W. Corbett, presiding. An address of welcome was delivered by Hon. M. C. George, of our city, an Oregonian by education, and for two terms congressman from our State. His address was well and strongly written, comprehensive and perspicuous. It dwelt at considerable length upon the greatness of the work accomplished, the energy required to finish it, the pre- eminent advantages of the route, its value to the country, and its utility as a hand-maid of civilization. He accorded it a place along-side of the great works of the age, the St. Gothard tunnel, the Biscay canal, the opening of the Mississippi at its mouth and the Nicaragua ship railway or the Panama canal.
Mr. Villard responded somewhat briefly, in a conversational style, noting the friendship extended to him in the Northwest, and recalling that it was at Portland, in 1874, that he got the inspiration to do what was here completed. He commented pleasantly upon what Portland could do in the way of a celebration of the event in comparison with that of St. Paul, and wished to disclaim too much of credit to himself personally, but to let it go to others also.
Upon concluding, he introduced Hon. Chas. Russell, of the Queen's Bench, and member of the British Parliament, who spoke for the British visitors. Being an Irishman, he was a fluent talker; nevertheless, followed in a line of ideas that seem to us something like platitudes-probably from his desire to follow speaking in a vein such as he supposed was in accordance with American feelings. [page 466]
He noticed the fact of our great continent, nature on a vast scale, and a hopeful and sturdy people following in a line of development originally sketched by nature. He referred with much feeling and power to the familiar fact of the amazing growth of the country, and the churches and schools, which indicated that the people were mindful of the higher things. He closed with good wishes to our people and to the nation of which this railroad was the latest effort.
Hon. Horace Davis, Queen's Counsellor, and member of Parliament, followed in much the same strain, speaking of having traveled six thousand miles from home to find here a civilization much like that he had left, of Anglo Saxons; and a city whose name recalled the English Island on the coast of Dorchester. The remarkable hospitality of the people of the West was in full keeping with the other delightful things experienced. The things he had seen here furnished thought for serious reflection, supplying all of the elements out of which the history of a people was to be made.
Senator Dr. Albert Greoning, of Bremen, continued in a quiet, pleasing style, speaking on the part of the Germans. He expressed himself as struck with admiration of the greatness and fertility of the country, and the energy, activity and sagacity of the inhabitants (a sentiment which the "inhabitants" heartily applauded.) He spoke with pride of Mr. Villard as a native of Germany, and expressed the belief that this was but the beginning of a new expansion for Portland, and closed with the words that "The development of the United States will always be observed without envy; but with the deepest interests and warmest sympathy."
The Americans, being somewhat more free to express themselves, and to score criticisms, or suggest ideas of improvement, as it is very instructive to observe by their remarks, mostly framed their expressions in a setting of humor, but, nevertheless, struck out constantly advanced ideas and bright scintillations of thought. Hon. John A. Kasson, of Kansas, saw in the procession an epitome of American history, and closed with the fervent hope, in the name of God, that American civilization on the Pacific shores would not be [page 467] forced back, but rolling across the Pacific, bring the ancient millions of Asia into harmony with the civilization of our age, and with the religion to which we adhere.
Senator Conger, of Michigan, spoke with much fraternal spirit of the pioneers of the Pacific, passing into the unknown of the Rocky Mountains, and then being lost to all their old friends as if by the separation of death; and the long waiting for the closing of the chasm between the west and the east, that they might once more see each other. He also spoke of the intense interest of the east in the religious welfare and improvement of the west, and that it be a land of homes. He said that after looking he had no fears for Oregon. He closed fervently with the words, " God bless you, God speed you," and expressions of the pride that he felt in the accomplishment of the great work.
Carl Schurz spoke with much wit of the German part of the affair, expressing his pride in ,Villard, and how his respect for the other speakers had risen,. becoming to him as men of marked discrimination in discovering the eminent qualities of the German-Americans. He referred with pleasure to seeing the Indian boys and girls there, and emphasised the thought that even in the west it was recognized as better to educate than to slaughter the red men. He also cast out a few bright ideas as to the value of our forests, and the unwisdom of their wanton distruction--as here was the great store-house of timber of which the rest of the continent stood so much in need.
William M. Evarts, known quite largely over the country as a writer of exceedingly long and complex sentences, surprised the audience by his gleeful spirit, referring American progress to Plymouth Rock, not even excepting the German Villard, who did nothing great until he had married his New England wife. He also read a lecture-for the benefit of the foreign visitors probably-from the texts in the Bible with reference to beating plowshares into swords, and swords back into plowshares, as the proper, and indeed the American way of preserving liberty and the national interest, calling attention to these hardy, independent ranks of men as fit either for defense against violence, or for manning the cars of industry. [page 468]
Indeed, from the earnestness with which the Americans dwelt upon the moral aspect of the case, one might have taken them to be a party of clergymen. Their words were, however, sound and weighty, and strongly illustrative of the bent of the American mind toward ideal right and good.
Other railroads soon came. The Union Pacific, through the Oregon Short line and connection with the Oregon Railway, reached Portland in 1885, and the Southern Pacific came in 1888. The advent of either would have been hailed as the event of first importance had it been first in point of time.
This history of Portland is the product of research and labor extended in all directions that promised results; it is probably as complete as any that is likely to be prepared, and yet not so complete by any means as it would be, were it practicable to gather, to sift and to compare all facts of interest that are yet retained in the memory of living persons or set down in documents remaining in private hands. Unfortunately, the mass of these materials is beyond the reach of those who undertake to prepare a work like this, and writers or editor must be content with such records and recollections as can be gathered by diligence, though knowing that more has been missed than obtained.
The retrospect of the history of Portland shows steady growth, consciousness of destiny, development of character and assimulation thereto of the forces gathered and gathering here. It shows a society knit together by long intercourse and by community of interest, developing characteristics that give Portland an individuality recognizable by all who come in contact with her, establishing the homogeneity of her people, and advancing them to the conditions of well regulated and orderly municipal life. Portland has the experience and conservatism of the past blended with the activity of the present and the inspiration of the future. From her past she has a basis of solid strength; from her present, the hope and purpose of enterprising spirit. The two united give the prophecy of her history. [page 469]
This prophecy is founded in conditions that make it impressive and give assurance of certain fulfillment. So much has been done and gained that the future is no longer problematical. Destiny is so far advanced that prophecy cannot miss its mark. Portland, no mean city already, is destined to be a great one. Who can guess with how curious an interest this account of beginnings of the city of Portland; this record of the city of Portland of to-day, will be read in the great city of Portland, forty or one hundred years from to-day! Individual life is short and in the main unimportant, but the collective life of men is long and important, and its development through secular periods, largely under the stimulating variety of city life, makes the soul of history, whose record gives dignity to the career of the human race.