Oregon & California Rail Road (later Southern Pacific)
Westside Line - from Portland to Beaverton
Some facts about the Westside line
The line is one of the original sections of the Oregon and California Railroad, completed in 1871.
The section of track between Portland and Beaverton is the oldest abandoned railroad in Oregon.
The original railroad survey of the area was completed on October 1, 1864, only 5 years after Oregon became a state.
When ground was broken on the Westside line on April 15, 1868, it marked the beginning of construction on Oregonís first major rail line. The groundbreaking ceremony was held near what is now the intersection of SW Barbur and Woods just South of downtown Portland. The stretch of track between Portland and Beaverton was the second section of track in Oregon to be completed.
The construction of the Westside line pre-dates gasoline and diesel engines used in modern construction equipment, and taken for granted today. The line was likely constructed only with crews of many men with picks, shovels, wheelbarrows and explosives.
The Westside line from Portland to Beaverton began at Union Station in NW Portland and went through downtown via 4th avenue. The route then followed what is now SW Barbur blvd to its intersection with SW Bertha. The entire length of SW Bertha is the old railroad grade. From Bertha and Capitol Highway into Beaverton the route travels through SW Portland neighborhoods and very few traces of it remain.
From 1871 to 1912 the line carried passenger and freight trains pulled by steam locomotives. Modern diesel locomotives did not exist when the line was in use.
The grade out of Portland to the low pass at Bertha was steep by railroad standards, and a helper engine was employed to assist the trains climbing the grade.
There was a station at Bertha, located on the West side of Bertha Blvd, immediately South of the Capitol Highway overpass.
Bertha was named for the wife of a railroad employee. The Hillsdale name was not used to avoid confusion with Hillsboro.
An extension of an existing line from Tigard into Beaverton allowed freight traffic to be moved out of downtown around 1912-1914. The helper operation was not needed after this time and was discontinued.
In 1914 the line was electrified and used as one of the primary routes for the Red Electric interurban system. At this time the line had already been in use for nearly half a century.
The worst interurban train accident happened just West of what is now SW 13th and Bertha. On May 9, 1920 two Red Electric trains collided head on, killing 8 and injuring 102.
The Red Electrics ceased operation in 1929, and by 1932 the track had been removed. SW Portland and Beaverton have been developed extensively since that time, and few traces of the original line remain.
The town of Gaston, Oregon is named for Joe Gaston, the original proponent of the Westside route to California.
Although not confirmed, because of the spelling it is assumed that Holladay Street is named for Ben Holladay, who led the OCRR during its original construction, which included the Westside route.
The undeveloped and overgrown areas of the abandoned line between Bertha and the county line provide habitat for wildlife such as birds and squirrels.
The pristine and undisturbed traces of the Westside are an important part of Oregonís history.