What is considered the highest point in the Rose City at 1,073 feet, was once the home to Council Crest Amusement Park. It operated from Memorial Day in 1907 to Labor Day in 1929 — the year that The Great Depression began.
Referred to as the “Dreamland of the Northwest,” the property was initially part of Oregon pioneer John Talbot Lewis‘s donation land claim.
It’s believed that the Portland Railway Light & Power Company developed the park in hopes that it would attract more riders for the new Portland Heights streetcar line that opened the same year.
According to OregonHikers.org, the park had several attractions including a steam-powered miniature railway, a ferris wheel, a boat ride called “Trip Up the Columbia” and an observatory.
A story in the Oregon Daily Journal from June 1910 details the park’s biggest selling points, including the “Trip Up the Columbia.” This attraction cost $20,000 to build and took guests on a real scenic boat ride spanning nearly 2,000 feet.
“There is also a great scene showing a full rigged sailing ship lying at the bottom of the sea; a submarine diver is in the act of defending himself against the attack of a huge ‘octopus’ or devil fish,” the Oregon Daily Journal reported. “After passing that scene the boat enters the Columbia river gorge, where an Indian from a canoe is seen firing at a deer.”
At that point, the miniature railway had also been reconstructed and over 70,000 people had already ridden over the railway just in 1910. That and the park’s observatory were arguably the most popular attractions.
The observatory had a view of Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, Mount Jefferson and Mount Rainier. This made it a perfect spot for the total solar eclipse that occurred on June 8, 1918.
According to the Morning Oregonian, “The management of Council Crest amusement park has extended an invitation to visitors, without admission, to view the eclipse from that eminence, the highest local point above the city.”
Since then, the observatory has been rebuilt into a water tower.
Although operations in the amusement park ended in 1929, it wasn’t completely demolished until 1941. Until 1950, trolleys would still show off the site’s high elevation and 180-degree view of Portland to tourists.
Today, Council Crest Park is one of the city’s dog-friendly hiking and picnic destinations. It is also the home of Frederick Littman’s bronze sculpture that depicts a mother and child playing in a park.