Transportation to College Crest in 1918
by Roger Houglum
The following text is reprinted with permission from the Crest Drive Citizens Association Newsletter around 1988 (exact year of initial publication unknown).

Editor's note: Roger Houglum was born and raised in Eugene and has been researching the history of our neighborhood- the home of his grandfather. The following article has been taken from his notes and provides us with a good idea of the transportation available to residents in our neighborhood in 1918.

In 1918, a comparatively small number of College Crest residents owned automobiles. There was a well established street railway system in Eugene, and one of its largest "loops" was the College Crest Line that served much of Southwest Eugene. The problem for neighborhood residents at that time was that of how to get to and from the street car line. A well established system of trails, terminating in actual "stations" on the line made this quite feasible in the immediate College Crest area, and many commuted daily from as far away as the present Crest Drive and upper Storey Boulevard. To give some perspective, it would be helpful to outline the College Crest loop of those days.

Starting from 11th and Willamette, the line swung west on 11th to Polk where it turned south to 18th Avenue. Then up 18th Avenue (east) to Jefferson to 24th (south); then west to Friendly Avenue. Turning south on Friendly, it continued to 28th and Friendly, the location of the College Crest Station. Thence east over what is now 28th Avenue and over the low divide between College Hill and the higher ground to the south. Arcadia Station was at the present intersection of 28th and Jefferson. From Sunset Station the line veered southeastward toward its intersection with Wood Avenue, now 29th Avenue, and continued east to 29th and Willamette; the location of Orswell Station. At 29th and Willamette, the line turned north on Willamette which it then followed to the intersection of 11th and Willamette, completing the loop.

There was half-hour service on the line between the hours of 6:00 AM and midnight, 7 days a week; and the fare was 5 cents for those riders under 12 years of age, 10 cents for all others. The electrically heated cars had straw upholstered seats, and could accommodate up to 35 to 40 passengers.

Important roads and trails fanned out from College Crest Station (28th and Friendly) serving foot travelers and commuters over a wide area. Friendly Avenue extended up the hill as far as "Inspiration Point", above the present Whitten Drive. A wooden sidewalk ran about a quarter of a mile west on 28th Avenue to the intersection with Ingall's Way. A primitive trail, busy and muddy, took off up the steep hillside until Chambers Road was reached.

Arcadia trail started at Arcadia Station (28th & Madison) and extended the present route covered by Madison St. to it's intersection with today's Crest Drive. It was a sidewalk all the way, too. Two parallel 12" plans; the entire distance was made slip-free by transverse wooden cleats nailed every 12 to 15 inches apart on all the steep grades. There were lots of street-car riders that used Arcadia trail in those days.

Sunset Trail started at Sunset station (28th & Jefferson) and headed due south along what is presently the alignment of Washington St., crossed the present Wayne Morse property, and terminated eventually on what is now known as Crest Drive. The first three blocks or so were easy to travel since a broad sidewalk was provided. This consisted of transverse lengths of rough boards of cheap lumber nailed to 2" x 4" "sleepers" laid in direct contact with the ground (members of the neighborhood made emergency repairs when portions of the sidewalk gave way, usually because of wood rot). The sidewalk ended a little beyond what is now known as 29th Place. The "trail" then really started- well cleared but very muddy in the wet season. First it crossed a 3-stair stile over a barbed wire fence that marked the boundary of the Morse property, then continuing south perhaps half a mile, to the south boundary of the same property. Once another stile is crossed, you were at the county road which is today called Crest Drive, but in the period 1919 to 1925, or so, was usually referred to as the "Lorane Road" or the "Lorane Valley Road".

In 1918, the preponderance of wheeled traffic was horse-drawn; large wagons moved great loads of fruit, vegetables, grain, and lumber from the fertile and productive Lorane Valley and surrounding areas. Most of the was en route to Eugene Fruit Growers Association, or the Southern Pacific Railway freight depot.

In downtown Eugene the situation was completely reversed; the streets were crowded with automobiles of every type: all touring cars, since sedans were practically unheard of at that time. Most of the cars were only used in town simply because the wagon roads beyond the city limits were so rough and filled with chuckholes that a blow-out of a fabric tire was always likely; a broke spring, or axle, always a distinct possibility!

South Willamette was unpaved south of 11th Avenue in the early teens; was eventually paved to 22nd or 24th Avenue by early 1920's. South of that point, there was a very rough and chuck-holed county road that lead to the intersection of what is now 29th and Willamette. At the intersection a wooded post held two signs, one pointing west and marked "Wood Avenue" (now 29th); the other south and marked "Lorane" and "Dunn School". From this point one could go as far as Spencer Butte in the dry months, but it was completely impassable for autos in wet weather.

The Lorane Road, which started at the 29th and Willamette intersection, followed the present route of Crest Drive to the top of the first hill. The roadbed was studded with jagged rocks and near-buried boulders- a real hazard to the fabric tires of that early period. At the present intersection of Crest Drive and Storey Blvd., the Lorane Road followed the course of Storey Blvd., bearing southwest, then south until the top of the ridge was reached (at the intersection of Blanton Road). At that point, the old Lorane Road rambled west, then southwest. The roadbed was wretched (worse than today!).

In the decade or so after the year 1900, the upper Lorane Valley was intensely farmed. Access to Eugene via the old Lorane Road was difficult and time-consuming. The Spencer Creek Grange and other area residents brought pressure to bear on the Lane County Road Department to rebuild the road on a new routing which would take it through the College Crest area. Work on this project go underway late in 1918.

MORE ABOUT STREETCARS IN EUGENE

George Coffee, a lifelong resident of this area, offered to map the streetcar lines of Eugene for your editor. The sketch is based on his work. George had several stories from his youth about the system, most of which he related during a taped interview on August 12, 1988 at his home in Eugene. He said each of the four lines offered transportation every half hour. One way to celebrate Halloween, according to George, was to tie railroad torpedos to the rail. When the car ran over them it just about lifted the wheels off the track and made a GREAT noise.

"The Eighth and Blair Street car," George said, "had to stop for the Oregon and Electric track at Fifth and Blair. The conductor looked like a Frenchman. He had a well-trimmed goatee, and he would pull up to the Oregon Electric track and stop. On the southeast corner of the intersection there was a house with a three or four foot hedge around it, and us kids would be playing over at the Geary school, so we'd go over there and hide behind the hedge, and when the old boy would stop for the track, we'd go out and pull the trolley off and the power was gone. He'd go out and put the trolley on and get back and ding, ding the bell, and about the time he'd start up why somebody'd jump the thing again. Then he'd go back to town and get a harnessed policeman. They called him Gunnysack Mason. He lived right where Jackson Motor Service is on west Sixth. There was four harnessed policemen, uniformed policemen; Gunnysack Mason, Officer Dugan who lived on Washington Street, and Chief Christensen and Bill Judkins who lived out on Judkins point, right where Sears warehouse is. And then they had one or two plain clothes men.

Well, the next trip out Gunnysack Mason would be riding in the back end of the car with the door open. The nonsense would stop. He'd ride a couple of trips, then he'd go back to town."

Indirectly, I heard another story about mischief, and George filled in the details. The boys used to put soap on the track between 18th and 19th on Friendly Street, a part of the College Crest line, or on a cut which ran through between 23rd and 24th on Jefferson. Jefferson Street wasn't there then, just a cut so that when the car went through only from the windows up was it visible above the bank. The soap made the track slippery and the car was hardly able to climb the grade.

He further explained that Polk Street didn't go through between 12th and 18th. The track wandered through a pasture and a swampy area which is now the Amazon. There was a trestle three or four feet high across that swamp. One day it was raining, a bunch of boys boarded the car to get out of the rain. As they went through that area they pulled all the curtains in the car. The conductor, who could see what they were up to, reflected in the front window, stopped on the trestle and challenged them. "What do you boys want? Get out here, or put those curtains back the way they belong?" They knew if they got out they'd have to wad through the swamp in the rain, so they replaced the curtains.

Permission D. Kolb, CDCA Board Chair 02.28.12