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Portland  Streetcars


Council Crest Car No. 509 at Council Crest.

The Council Crest Trolleys would carry locals and tourists from Downtown Portland on a 2-1/2-mile trip to the highest point in Portland’s Hills, 1150 feet above the Portland Harbor to Council Crest where they would find incredible views. Portland’s Council Crest Line was the most Scenic and Spectacular Streetcar line in the Pacific Northwest. The narrow-guage Council Crest Cars were the first of many Portland streetcars manufactured by the American Car Company of St. Louis which became a subsidiary of Philadelphia’s J.G. Brill Co.

Council Crest Car No. 504 at Council Crest.

Council Crest Depot with several cars waiting for passengers.

Ten Council Crest Cars were delivered in 1904, numbered 201-210, and they were put in service in time for the 1905 World’s Fair at the Lewis & Clark Exposition. Not long after the Fair,  the cars were renumbered 501-510. The Line to the top of Council Crest was completed in 1906.

Interior of a Council Crest Car.


Motorman Chester and Conductor Rudolph with Car 507 near the end of the Portland Heights-Council Crest Line about 1910.


Portland Heights Car 504 on a snowy day circa 1916.


Council Crest Car No. 506 heads north accross the Vista Avenue Viaduct during construction on August 10, 1926. During construction, the Council Crest Cars were able to continue on one lane of track across the bridge.

Car 503 nears the end of regular service.


Council Crest Car 504 on its last day of service in February 1950.

The Council Crest Cars stopped making the loop at Council Crest Park in 1949, however they continued going from Downtown Portland to Patton and Vista until 1950 when the tracks were removed or covered over. Portland’s last three city lines were converted to bus lines. Interurban service to Oregon City continued until 1958. Two of the original Council Crest Cars survived, 503 and 506.

After retirement, wheels and equipment were removed from Car 503 and it was donated to a North Portland Boy Scout troop who used it as a clubhouse. During the 1960s, it went to the OERHS (Oregon Electric Railway Historical Society) Trolley Park in Glenwood, Oregon where it was restored for operation in 1976 using standard gauge trucks from Australia. It was put on display in downtown Portland for Tri-Met's 10th birthday party in 1980.


Car No. 503 at Meadows Station at the Glenwood Trolley Park

Car 503 gained international recognition when it was leased to San Francisco's Market Street Railway for participation in their Trolley Festival, during two summers, 1983 and 1984. Car 503 was used as the test vehicle during start-up of the Willamette Shore Railway from Portland to Lake Oswego in 1987, but it was returned to Glenwood when it was determined that its platforms were too weak for further heavy use.

In 1991, Car 503 briefly returned to downtown Portland for display and testing in conjunction with the startup of Portland Vintage Trolley. In 1997, Car 503 left the Trolley Park for the last time, when it was moved to the OERHS Museum in Brooks. 

The other Council Crest car to escape the wrecker's torch was Car 506, which was on display outside the Center Street Shops for a time after retirement. It was later donated to the Oregon Historical Society, who had it trucked to Council Crest Park.

Car Number 506 was hauled up to Council Crest Park on Nov. 22, 1950 and it stayed there till vandals damaged it on Halloween night in 1972.

Car 506 finally joined its sister at the Trolley Park in Glenwood in 1976 because plans were being made for demolition of the Center Street Shops, which were torn down in 1978. After having sat uncovered atop Council Crest for 22 years, Car 506’s condition is not as good as that of Car 503 and it still retains its original narrow gauge trucks and running gear. It received a cosmetic exterior restoration at the Trolley Park and was later moved to the museum in Brooks to await future overhaul.


Portland Streetcars

Last updated 10-25-16

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