We want Bull Run water!


These days we tend to take plentiful, clean water for granted. We turn on a faucet and, “presto!”, there it is. Yet that wasn’t always the true.

Montavilla in the early 20th Century was experiencing frequent shortages, especially in the summer months when water was needed most.

Until around 1900 Montavilla’s water service was adequate for its small population. Like other unincorporated communities near Portland, private companies did the job. The Mount Tabor Villa Water Company and the Mount Tabor Water Company, both incorporated in 1891, were the local suppliers. (The Mount Tabor Water Company piped water to Montavilla from Paradise Springs on the west slope of Mount Tabor.)

At that time, real estate sales grew slowly due to the the depression of 1893 to 1897, but they picked up in the early years of the 20th Century. With the real estate boom, the Montavilla population rose and soon the water supply could not keep up. 

Portland newspapers began to run horror stories about Montavilla’s water shortages. The Oregon Daily Journal of August 15, 1902, for example, reported that the Mount Tabor Water Company was dealing with the summer undersupply by turning off the water lines after 6 pm. The Oregonian on October 4, 1902 proclaimed “Water is Badly Needed” and residents would no longer be allowed to water their gardens in the summer.

Worries about water to put out fires were also a concern for many. (For more on Montavilla fire protection in the early 20th Century visit How Montavilla Got Its Own Fire Station).

The obvious solution was to gain access to Bull Run water, which started flowing into Portland in 1895. But there was a hitch: Bull Run water was only available to customers within Portland city limits. 

So why not just annex Montavilla to Portland?

Photo credit: George Arthur Peake, Mount Tabor Reservoir, Portland, Oregon, about 1940. Collection of Patricia Sanders

A note on the photo: I didn’t think it would be very interesting to show a picture of a water pipe, so I decided to use a photograph of Mount Tabor Reservoir Number 5 (built in 1911) filled with Bull Run water. This photo was taken by my grandfather, who liked to give his photographs an artistic feel—hence the slightly blurred effect. By the way that’s my grandmother, May Peake, in the foreground. They lived just a few blocks from Mount Tabor Park.

Annexation had been discussed in previous years and had been roundly rejected by Montavillans. Now, with the water shortages, the issue came up again. Contentious public meetings were held, but, despite the water issues, Montavillans still could not agree about joining the City. There were pro and con factions, some favoring incorporation others annexation.

And then, in 1904, there was another obstacle: the City thought there was insufficient Bull Run water to supply added populations.

Finally, in 1906, the way was cleared to put annexation to a vote, and Montavillans approved it with an 80% majority. The Oregonian of July 14 rightly proclaimed this a victory for annexation AND for Bull Run water. About a year later installation of the new system began with a 12-inch wooden pipe running from the upper Mount Tabor reservoir down to Montavilla. The small pipes of the old system would later be replaced to handle the increased pressure. 

So next time you turn on your tap, maybe take a moment to think of those Montavillans of old who were able to reconcile their differences and lay the foundation for the water abundance we enjoyed until 2015, when the Mt. Tabor reservoirs were decommissioned.

Historical story ideas? Questions about Montavilla’s past? Also share a love for neighborhood history? Reach out to Pat Sanders at pat.montavilla.history@gmail.com.

Read all of the “Montavilla Memories” articles by Pat Sanders here


This weekend

One of the best parts of publishing Village Portland is working with new contributors. People love creating, telling stories, investigating their world— and we love giving people a forum to share their work.

Please check out this essay from Drew Thorson about a Lents’ neighbor decision to push back from modern media. It’s called the “Brightest Distraction” and tells the story with his photography as well as words.

And below is another awesome contribution from Philip King.

I suggested casually: what sort of adventures would happen if a Pomeranian and a raccoon hung out? Here’s what they gave me.

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The process by which developers communicate with neighbors is being updated. The project’s website is here, and testimony is being accepted until April 24th.

The City Council accepted testimony on the issue this week, and you can watch the video of the meeting here. 

If you missed this month’s Montavilla Neighborhood Association meeting with a guest presentation on recycling, the video is below.

There also was discussion about the board’s preparation for the 82nd Ave Parade this month.


Jazz Friday:

“Ryan Meagher’s earlier work was self-described as “modern jazz for the indie rocker.” While he still wields the same attitude now-and-then, his vision includes influences from Irish traditional music, Indian classical music, Brazilian music, funk, and Western classical music.”

Vino Veritas, 7835 SE Stark St * 9 pm


Floyd Light Middle School, 10800 SE Washington St * 9 am – 2 pm

Women first responder career fair:

“This event is focused on encouraging women to pursue careers in public safety/criminal justice through hands on experience, facilitated conversations, Q&A opportunities to discuss topics relevant to women. Agencies participating will be focused on employment opportunities within the City of Portland.”

The event says its sold out, but you can check back on availability here. Portland Police are understaffed, and if you’re interested in applying, go here.

Portland Police Training Center, 14912 Northeast Airport Way 

Hula for the Family:

hula family

“We invite all family members to join us to learn Hawaiian language, songs and a simple hula dance in a warm, welcoming environment. You will learn some basic hula steps, easy-to-learn language and songs, hand motions, and then we will put our hands and feet together to perform a hula. Join us for a great time while spending time with family and friends.”

Gregory Heights Library, 7921 NE Sandy Blvd * 4 pm – 5 pm

Bunnies in baskets:

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“All the bunnies you can bet for $10. Our annual Petting Party at Taborspace in SE Portland is coming up on Saturday April 13, 2019 from 2 pm – 4 pm! We will have all of our friendly therapy bunnies on site for petting and holding, “bunny tail” cotton candy, and raffles!”

Tabor Space, 5441 SE Belmont St * 2 pm – 4 pm * $10


Live music, strings & brass:

“Combined concert: East County Community Orchestra and Portland Metro Concert Band”

David Douglas High School’s Horner Performing Arts Center, 1400 SE 130th Ave * 3 pm

The Montavilla Streetcar Line


Do you remember riding the old Portland trolleys? This electrified streetcar network once provided an easy way to get from home to work, to school, to shopping, to amusement parks, etc., and so made it possible to live further away from the city center. It is a major reason the Montavilla neighborhood developed so rapidly, especially in the early 20th Century, the heyday of Portland’s trolleys.

The Montavilla streetcar line opened as the Fairview branch of the City & Suburban Railway on July 26, 1892.  That day, The Morning Oregonian reported, C&S stockholders would ride the new four-mile line and then it would be available to the public. The route then went from SE Grand on SE Ankeny Street, turning north at SE 28th Avenue, and continuing east on NE Glisan Street to end at NE 82nd Avenue. The fare then was 5 cents for those who had contributed to the rail’s construction, 10 cents for everyone else.

Men posing with streetcar 595, Montavilla Line; City of Portland Archives A2011-007.25

The Fairview branch was soon renamed the “Montavilla” line, a contraction of the name of the housing tract at the line’s terminus, Mount Tabor Villa Addition. Service to Mount Tabor Villa and other nearby additions increased in 1900 when a single-rail spur was added on 80th Avenue between Glisan and Stark Streets, running along the eastern boundary of Mount Tabor Villa.

Real estate developers, of course, understood how streetcars could attract home-buyers to land several miles from downtown. In fact, H. C. Campbell, the man who put Mount Tabor Villa on the market in 1889, was also the general manager of the C&S Railway. (Incidentally, I learned just last week from the City of Portland Environmental Services that the old tracks are still beneath the asphalt on 80th Avenue. If you look closely you can trace their location in the street’s slight depression.)

The Montavilla line was also a boon to local entrepreneurs. The 80th Avenue (then Hibbard Street) spur ended at Montavilla’s main commercial street next to where Dickson’s Drug Store (now the Country Cat Dinner House) opened in 1910.

Further north on 80th businesses also popped up, taking advantage of this convenient transit. An example is the Gable Funeral Parlor built in 1927 at 80th and NE Everett Street (now the Rose City Nazarene Church), which The Montavilla Times of May 5, 1927 described as centrally located on streetcar service.

Businesses also opened along the Glisan section of the Montavilla line. Some of these old buildings are still in use today, such as the East Glisan Pizza building, which opened as a butcher shop in 1911. Located where the trolley turned south onto 80th, it was Samson the Grocer in the 1920s.

In 1911 the double-tracks on Glisan were extended to NE 90th Avenue, meeting up with the Montavilla Station, a terminal on the Mt Hood and Troutdale electric interurban lines. This gave Montavilla passengers and business owners an even wider range of travel and shipment options and allowed new tracts to be developed beyond NE 82nd Avenue.

The convenience and joys of riding the trolley, however, also came with risks. Accidents, although rare, did happen.

Take the one that occurred on a snowy Monday morning in 1905. The evening of the accident, February 6, The Oregon Daily Journal described it in vivid detail. Sixty-six passengers had boarded Montavilla car No. 107 on their way to work. Some were alarmed when the car headed down the steep decline on Glisan, a few blocks from SE 28th Avenue, at an unusually high speed. One passenger recalled later that Motorman H. W. Johnson said he was 12 minutes behind schedule and needed to make up time. Around 7:30 am, as the car started to make the sharp 28th Avenue turn, it suddenly leapt into the air and landed on its side, throwing passengers together in a tangled heap.

The Oregon Daily reporter gave all the gory details, but I’ll spare you those and simply say that 31 passengers were badly injured and one young man was killed. Fortunately, cries for help and the loud sounds of the crashing streetcar quickly brought neighbors to assist. Rescue workers and railway officials quickly arrived, the wrecked car was taken away by 10 am, and service soon resumed.

The Montavilla line continued in service until 1948.

If you have memories of riding the streetcar lines that served Montavilla, please feel free to share them below. You can also send information about Montavilla history to pat.montavilla.history@gmail.com.

This weekend

Here’s a story about how some churches are re-defining their mission and serving their community by opening up their space to the public. We also discuss why some churches are reluctant to follow what Pastor Matt Huff from Central Nazarene Church calls “The Church’s Greatest Commandment”.

Portland’s pedestrian plan:

Read the draft plan, offer comments, and hear people’s stories on the PedPDX plan here.

There are a few more meetings left, and comments are being accepted until May 3rd.


Live music

The Black Flash / Creature Society

EastSide Bar and Grill, 2530 NE 82nd Ave * 9 pm – midnight

Sketch comedy:

This should be good… “In GOB We Trust”, sketch comedy with

“Witness the wonder that is Escape Reality, Portland’s newest sketch comedy troupe featuring Nicolette Regina, Katelyn Melton, Jared Souza, Jarrett Brown and Nathan Franklin!”

Milepost 5 Theater, * 8133 NE Oregon St * 7 pm, Sat * $8, $14 gets you two drinks tickets


Talk Time (event):

“Talk Time is an informal conversation circle for non-native speakers to practice speaking English. First come, first served.”

Gregory Heights Library, 7921 NE Sandy Blvd * 12:30 pm – 2 pm

This weekend

At the March Montavilla Neighborhood Association meeting, Jonathan Lewis with the Office of Community & Civic Life gave a presentation on the City’s homeless camping program and the phone number for reporting (non-violent) neighbors having a mental crisis without contacting the police: 503-988-4888. There was also a presentation on public safety.

Muz Afsal from Southeast Uplift spoke about some upcoming workshops, including a community conversations called “Exploring Power and Privilege with Courage, Creativity, and Compassion” set for March 25th.

A new board member also stepped forward to serve the MNA. David Onley does a lot of excellent service work in the community, and for full disclosure, is a friend and has contributed to Village Portland.

Seats on the board are still open if anybody would like to step up!

This week, we published a new Montavilla Memories column by Pat Sanders. Read it here.

In this column, Sanders explores her process behind learning about Montavilla’s former library.


Live music:

Weekends mean live music Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night at Montavilla Station.

Montavilla Station, 417 SE 80th Ave * Fri & Sat 9ish pm


Leach Spring Garden Fair (event):

“Join us in celebration of Lilla Leach’s birthday by preparing for the gardening season. Rain or shine, this promises to be a fun, helpful, and inspiring way to get ready for spring!”

“Community Seed Exchange, compost demonstration, tool Sharpening by Sharpening4u, garden tools for sale by Red Pig Garden Tools, naturescaping & rain garden info and more by East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District, Xerces Society (invertebrate conservation) table, OSU Extension Service Master Gardeners  experts to answer your questions, and Leach Manor House & Stone Cabin Open House” 

11 am – nature walk, pruning workshop

noon – native plants for the home garden

1 pm – ethnobotany garden tour

Leach Garden, 6704 SE 122nd Ave * 10 am – 2 pm


The symphony in East Portland:

“The award-winning Oregon Sinfonietta, now in its 46th season and conducted by Dr. Donald L. Appert, is a full symphony orchestra of about sixty musicians that draws together community musicians from the greater Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington metropolitan area. The orchestra performs four free concerts per season at the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church in SE Portland.” 

Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church, 10501 SE Market St * 3 pm 

Cooking Around the World Club: No-Bake Desserts: 

“Families can learn with their kiddos how to make simple healthy desserts. There will be something for everyone, whether it’s for an afterschool snack or a special weekend treat. It’s easy, it’s healthy, it’s fun! Samples will be given at the end of the program.”

Holgate Library, 7905 SE Holgate Blvd * 3:15 pm – 4:30 pm

This weekend

We’re pleased to introduce “Montavilla Memories”, a new feature with Patricia . Learn more about her and her work in the first story here.

In the story, she makes a call to neighbors for their mementos and stories about the life and times of nearly Montavillans.

I saw this week that Lent’s Zoiglhaus Brewing Company announced that they are now serving bread from Fressen Artisan Bakery and Cafe. Fressen is a traditional German bakery, and that goes along great with Zoiglhaus’ German-style beers.

We’re working on a feature on Fressen, and it’s been fascinating learning more about the business and the tradition and history it represents. Every business and organization has a unique story, and we’re looking forward to telling more of them.


Montavilla movies:

“If Beale Street Could Talk”, “Spider Man: Into the Spider Verse”, and five other second-run films are showing at Academy Theater.

Academy Theater, 7818 SE Stark St * show times *  $4 for adults, $3 for youth & seniors


QTPI Talanoa: Celebrate Micronesia (event):

“Come join us for our first QTPI (Queer and Trans Pacific Islander) Talanoa of the year in celebration and storytelling from our QTPIs from Micronesia. Experience love, joy, laughter and shed a few tears with food and refreshments provided. This event is free and family friendly. All are welcome.”

Orchards of 82nd, 8118 SE Division St * 4 pm – 7 pm

Live rock n roll music:

The Weight / Moonraker / Lust for Glory

Eastside Bar & Grill, 2530 Ne 82nd Ave * 9-ish pm * $5


Community dinner (event):

“Community Dinners at Zenger Farm are a space to talk about issues that are impacting our community while sharing a meal together. This community dinner we will talk about how the legislative process works and how we can engage with it. We will also be talking about the Welcome Home bill that would support the resettlement of Refugees in Oregon.”

With community chef Lul Abdulle.

This is a family friendly event. We will have activities for kids 4+ and a full meal. Please let us know if you any dietary needs or allergies and translation needs. Register by emailing your name and group size to thao@zengerfarm.org or call 503-282-4245.

Zenger Farm * 4 pm – 6:30 pm * $5-15 per family (no one ever turned away)

Jazz happy hour (event):

“Come enjoy live jazz Sunday afternoon along with all day Happy Hour. A wonderful way to wind down the week.”

Vino Veritas, 7835 SE Stark St * 5 pm – 7 pm  

This weekend

When the weather dips into dangerous conditions, the Montavilla Emergency Shelter opens. At least once this season, they’ve been unable to open due to lack of volunteers.

So if you’d like to be notified when they’re open so you can work a shift, go here. They’re also in need of supplies.

Along with her work documenting Montavilla history, former Montavilla Neighborhood Association board member Pat Sanders has stepped forward to contribute to Village Portland!

Did you know that Montavilla has had three of newspapers of its own over the years? This is just one of the fun historical tidbits she’s shared. Expect more soon.

We’re looking forward to sharing stories about the businesses and individuals from the past— as well as those working in the community today.


Weekends mean live music at both Vino Veritas (7835 SE Stark St) and Montavilla Station (417 SE 80th Ave * Friday and Saturday night, 9ish pm).


Johnson Creek watershed-wide volunteerism (event):

This is the Johnson Creek Watershed Council‘s biggest volunteer event of the year, and they need willing hands to help restore this crucial waterway that runs along part of Portland’s southern border.

“There is a 24 year legacy of grassroots progress to restore, repair, and clean this 26 mile long watershed-all by wonderful humans who love it (like you!) Help us support this awesome place as we weed, plant, and mulch for a healthier watershed.”

10 locations along Johnson Creek * 8:45 am – noon

What to Do in the March Vegetable Garden class:

“Join Robyn Streeter of Your Backyard Farmer for a great refresher on what to do in the veggie garden for the month of March. This includes: soils and composts to get the garden ready, irrigation techniques, and developing a timeline and planting calendar for spring and summer.”

9000 SE Division * 11 am * free, register for this class

Guided garden tours:

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“On the first Saturday of the month, Garden Curator Courtney Vengarick will show you what’s blooming and of seasonal interest, provide useful and engaging information, and sharing fun stories about the adventurous creators of the Garden, Botanist Lilla Leach and pharmacist/civic leader John Leach.

First come first served; limit 15. Pre-registration not required. Meet in front of the Gift Shop, next to the Manor House.”

Leach Garden, 6704 SE 122nd Ave * 11 am – noon

Once Upon a Time Family Theatre:

“Once Upon a Time Family Theatre is a magical mix of theatrical simplicity and grand storytelling for kids and their families. There’s always a slight twist to the traditional story that keeps these productions fresh. Though simply produced, these delightful and engaging productions will soon have everyone fully absorbed in the interaction of live theatre.”

This month’s production: “The Irish Cinderlad”

Portland Metro Arts, 9003 SE Stark St * 11:30 am * children $1, $2 adults $2


Talk Time (event):

“Talk Time is an informal conversation circle for non-native speakers to practice speaking English. First come, first served.”

Gregory Heights Library, 7921 NE Sandy Blvd * 12:30 pm – 2 pm

Tax help:


“Get free individualized tax preparation assistance in Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean and English provided by IRS Certified Volunteers in partnership with Vietnamese Community of Oregon.

First come, first served.”

Midland Library, 805 SE 122nd Ave * 10 am – 4 pm

Live jam (event):

Eastside Bar & Grill, 2530 NE 82nd Ave * 5 pm – 9 pm

Enjoy your weekend!