Oregon City, OR (ORC)
Straddling bluffs at the falls of the Willamette River, Oregon City was laid out in 1842. The community was the endpoint of the Oregon Trail and served as the territorial capital.
1757 Washington Street
Oregon City, OR 97045
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 14,858
- Facility Ownership: City of Oregon City
- Parking Lot Ownership: City of Oregon City
- Platform Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
- Track Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
The Oregon City station opened on April 16, 2004, and is presently a platform and shelter served by the Amtrak Cascades. The city plans to move the Southern Pacific depot building, currently used as offices, to the newer site to use once again as the passenger station. In 2008, the Oregon City budgeted $1.5 million for the Amtrak station to move the depot and upgrade the parking lot.
The falls of the Willamette River, where the Clackamas joins it in running north toward Portland, was already a natural place for meetings and trade amongst the Native Americans when John McLoughlin established a land claim there in 1829 in the name of the Hudson Bay Company. He recognized that the falls would be a source of significant water power, and in 1830, McLoughlin blasted a mill race into the basalt rock at the falls to power a sawmill. The falls have powered lumber, flour, woolen cloth, and paper mills, as well as providing hydroelectric power. Today, only one paper mill remains.
Willamette Falls, one of the largest in the Pacific Northwest, is a 1,500 feet wide and 40 feet high horseshoe with a flow of 30,849 cu ft/s. Located 26 miles upriver from the Willamette’s mouth, a canal and set of locks allow vessels to pass into the main Willamette Valley. Industrialization of the area led to diminishing salmon and steelhead runs, prompting the construction of a fish ladder in 1882. A new fish ladder, built in 1971, is currently operated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
McLoughlin surveyed and laid out the town of Oregon City in 1842, supplanting the “Willamette Falls” name used at that time. In 1844, Oregon City became the first incorporated city west of the Rocky Mountains, and served as the Territorial Capital until 1853, when it was moved to Salem.
The city was the endpoint of the cross-continent Oregon Trail, the place where land claims were filed in the 1840s and 1850s upon arrival. The meadow above the house of the provisional governor, George Abernathy, became the marshaling point for new arrivals coming both by water and overland. Abernathy Green, as it was called, is today the site of the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, which sits across the street from the Oregon City station.
Oregon City has had several significant firsts: the first newspaper, mail delivery, jail, library and debating society west of the Rockies. More importantly, in 1890, the Oregon City Electric Company made the first successful long-distance electrical transmission to Portland from a Westinghouse alternating current dynamo situated on the basalt bluffs of the Willamette River.
Straddling the bluffs, the city landscape makes a sharp transition over a 90-foot cliff that was originally traversed using a series of stairs. By 1826, the preferred route had 722 steps. In 1912, the city was authorized by ballot to sell $12,000 in bonds to construct and operate a municipal elevator, and on December 3, 1915, the hydraulic-powered Municipal Elevator came into service; that day, nearly all of the city’s 3,869 people took the three-minute elevator ride. In 1924, electricity replaced hydraulics; and in 1954-55 it was overhauled, and still stands 130 feet tall. At the base of the bluff, riders walk a tunnel under the railroad tracks instead of over, as they did originally. The Oregon City Municipal Elevator continues to operate as one of only four municipal elevators in the world, and this “Elevator Street” is the only vertical street in North America.
Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage services at the Oregon City facility. The Amtrak Cascades are primarily financed through funds made available by the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Oregon Department of Transportation.
- 50 Long Term Parking Spaces
- Accessible Platform
- Dedicated Parking
- Wheelchair Lift