Portland’s Freeway Names, Minnesota Freeway

Portland’s Freeway Names, Minnesota Freeway (now I-5):

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The Freeway now known as I-5 was officially known as the EastBank Freeway, but quickly garnered the nickname of Minnesota Freeway.

Building the Eastbank Freeway
Building the Eastbank Freeway

As you can see, the freeway project took up the entire block where Minnesota Street used to be, and thus it’s nick name came into more common use. As far as I can tell, outside of official documentation from the City of Portland, Eastbank Freeway was rarely used. But the name “Minnesota Freeway” is still found on the Internet which causes some confusion as it’s not commonly used any more.

Construction started in 1959, and ended up costing $22 million. The new freeway was pretty much rammed through despite citizen’s protests and decimated entire African American Neighborhoods. Outside of the the African American Neighborhoods though, there seemed to be little protest over building the highway. No doubt a bit of racism played heavily into that.

By 1961, the planned road had taken over the 99W name from Pacific Highway. It was opened the morning of December 2, 1964, and businsses along Interstate Highway immediately knew they were done. It also lacked any type of environmental impact studies, or even basic economic studies!

Various documents claim that I-5 legally maintains the Pacific Highway name, but I am not able to officially substantiate that. Nor can I find when the road was officially named to I-5.

Next, War Veterans Freeway

Oregon Friendly to Business?

Oregon Friendly to Business?

One of the common statements I read constantly is “Oregon is business unfriendly.” And people say that large companies are “fleeing” the State due to the environmental protections and high taxes here.

Well, Forbes Magazine disagrees with that. They say:

“Our ranking measures six vital categories for businesses: costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life. We factor in 37 points of data to determine the ranks in the six main areas. Business costs, which include labor, energy and taxes, are weighted the most heavily. We relied on 11 data sources, with research firm Moody’s Analytics as the most-utilized resource”

They peg Oregon in the #9 spot, behind Washington (#7) and Nebraska (#8). Utah comes in at #1 on their list, while interestingly, North Dakota is at #4.

The Small Business & Entrepreneur Site, doesn’t agree quite that much. Based on just tax information and only regarding Small Businesses, Oregon is firmly middle of the road.

“SBE Council’s “Business Tax Index 2012″ pulls together 18 different tax measures, and combines those into one tax score that allows the 50 states and District of Columbia to be compared. Among the taxes included are income, capital gains, property, death/inheritance, unemployment, and various consumption-based taxes, including state gas and diesel levies.”

The Tax Foundation puts Oregon at #13, only four places behind Texas (#9) which seems to be constantly touted as “the best” for Business.

Thumbtack.com Small Business Survey, in partnership withKauffman Foundation has an interactive map that puts Oregon at #20 overall. Their map measures a variety of figures, Ease of Starting a business, Tax Codes, Environmental Regulations, Zoning, Training Programs, and several others.

By any definition of the word, at least from those who get paid to think about it, Oregon seems to be decidedly business friendly.

The Seven Toughest Men in Oregon History – Part 4

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The Seven Toughest Men in Oregon History – Part 4

Nimrod O’Kelly is possibly my personal favorite character out of Oregon history. His story is not only one of murder, but a complete history of law in the Oregon Territory just after formation as a Territory and during Oregon’s transformation to full fledged Statehood.

Nimrod, a veteran of the American Revolution, walked to Oregon at age 65 as part of the second wagon train to Oregon. He was a bit of a loaner to the point that he didn’t really stay with the actual wagon train much, although he did have a few people he called friends. Once the wagon train arrived in Oregon City, instead of staying there for the winter, he immediately started walking south in an attempt to find virgin land to settle. He kept walking until he was at least two days walk from any other settlers. He finally stopped near present day Brownsville (who’s claim to fame is the where the movie “Stand By Me” was filmed,) and setup a land claim.

As Nimrod was a Revolutionary War veteran, he claimed himself an extra 160 acres of land as was due to him as part of his discharge from the war. He also claimed 640 acres instead of 320 as a single man. His reasoning was that his wife and kids would be joining him soon so he was legally entitled to claim the full 640 acres. But pretty soon Nimrod found himself surrounded by unwanted neighbors. A few of the neighbors took it upon themselves to only recognize a claim of 320 acres, noting that after two years no wife and children had shown up, so they must not exist. Two even went so far as to place their own land claims over large parts of his. As Nimrod was a bit of a loaner and not entirely liked by other locals things escalated to the point where he shot and killed one of the men who had taken over part of his claim.

Instead of running, Nimrod walked a full day to turn himself in for the first murder in the Oregon Territory. As there was no Sheriff, no Judge, no Courthouse or even Jail at that time, he was sent back to his home to wait for the rest of the settlers to figure out what to do. Eventually things were put together enough to where he could be tried and convicted by a Jury. He was jailed at a neighbors house, one who had been one of his few friends on the wagon train coming over. He spent over a year this way, being allowed to walk around freely and taking meals with the family before being locked into a nearby shed for the night.

Eventually a “real” Judge was appointed and another trial held as the Oregon Territory had adopted a new set of laws. He was found guilty again, and jailed again. After a while he was allowed to return to his own property to await a proper jail to be built, as Oregon simply didn’t have a jail yet. Once one in Portland had been built, he was moved there. But his Sheriff and Sheriff Deputy escort got drunk the night before they were to drop him off. Instead of delaying his arrival, Nimrod walked to the jail by himself and signed himself in.

After several attempts to get a pardon from the Governor of the Oregon Territory and the President of the United States, he was pardoned by the first Oregon State Governor. During this time Nimrod’s family had actually shown up and settled onto the claim he had made. Instead of spending time with his family, he immediately set out to Washington D.C. to formally file his claim under the new laws. This done, he walked back to Oregon. For the second time.

Unfortunately laws changed again and all settlers had to re-make their Donation Land claims yet again. So at 75 years old, Nimrod made a second round trip to Washington D.C., walking all the way to file his claim for the third time. Nimrod returned home to Oregon, but died only a couple of years later. His claim was eventually split up and sold by his family, part of it to the second husband of the wife of the man he had originally shot and killed.

On to Part 5 – The Survivors of Battle Rock

The Seven Toughest Men in Oregon History – Part 4

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The Seven Toughest Men in Oregon History – Part 8 – Sheriff Til Taylor

Of all the stories here, that of Sheriff Til Taylor is perhaps the saddest.

Sheriff Til Taylor was born in 1866, murdered in 1920 during a jail break. He was appointed Sheriff Deputy of Umatilla County in 1898 at the age of 32. Four years later he was elected to the post of Sheriff after the previous Sheriff, William Blakeley, retired.

He was a Democrat in a land of Republicans and was so popular that he would continually run unopposed for the post of Sheriff. Sheriff Taylor saw the end of the Wild West and highwaymen, and saw the start of Bank Robbers and Safe Crackers. It’s said that he had a memory for faces and would study pictures on wanted posters for hours on end, he frequently found men who had drastically changed from pictures twenty years old.

Once in custody he could get a confession from a criminal more often then any other Law Man around. His success rate, and general good nature, was such that he was envied by most other Police, and admired by crooks. Thieves wouldn’t even think of robbing anything in his territory.

Here is the part that puts Sheriff Taylor on this list. He personally arrested 2,645 men in 18 years as Sheriff. AND, he never killed anyone at all. He wounded several, but either relied on getting the drop on crooks, mentally staring them down, or simply wrestling them to the ground.

The murder of Sheriff Til Taylor set off one of the largest man hunts to that day. Over 1000 citizens spent a week tracking down the murderer and the five others who escaped at the same time in the Umatilla Mountains. When caught, a lynching of the six men was narrowly avoided when the Sheriff’s brother (who had been elected to fill Til’s vacant position the day after the murder,) spoke to the crowd and invoked the Sheriff’s memory to disperse the crowd and kept the prisoners from being lynched.

Despite Til Taylor’s important work as a Sheriff, his biggest contribution and what he is most remembered for, is as the repeated President of the Pendleton Round-Up and the work he put into making the event what it is today.

Oregon history is full of lots of other tough people. From the Governors prim and proper secretary who declared Martial Law in Oregon’s most Lawless Town, to the Cattle Baron who knew he was going to die. I love stories like these people’s lives, they’re inspirational. They didn’t just give up in the face of adversity, they just buckled down and kept going.

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On to Part 5

The Seven Toughest Men in Oregon History – Part 7

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The Seven Toughest Men in Oregon History – Part 7 – Lige Coalman

In 1915 the United States Forest Service built a house on the top of Mt. Hood (11,237 feet above sea level) to serve as a fire outlook post for pretty much the entire area that is now Mt. Hood National Forest. Lige Coalman (nick named the Iron Man of Hood,) was the first person stationed there and helped with it’s construction. Despite being paid a rate of $5 a day, most of the packers quit before all the parts of the building were packed to the top. On the last day Lige carried 120 pounds of nails and other hardware up on the last load.

Lige lived there for four years. The “trail” from the top to a place called Crater Rock usually takes about an hour. Lige could make it in six minutes by running and leaping large distances. He did this stunt not once but pretty much every time he came down the mountain. He also participated in many spectacular rescues, all of which were extensively written about in local newspapers.

Here’s why this is impressive. More then 130 people have died on the slopes of Mt. Hood in climbing accidents.

Last but certainly not least, Sheriff Til Taylor