Portland area mystery solved

I finally found some information about the abandoned building off Hwy 30 in Linnton. I have been interested in the history of this building every time I drive by it on the way out to ST Helens.  Some say that it was a train station which never made sense as it is only a few miles from Portland’s Union Station in NW Portland.

I Googled “abandon building highway 30” and found some photos on Flikr with comments and speculation as to what the building used to be. Again a train station was mentioned. I found one photo that the owner actually knew the history of the building.

The building was a gas manufacturing plant built and operated by Portland Gas and Coke from 1912 to 1957.The building has sat there abandoned all these years. The property is fenced off and has a guard on duty. No one can get inside of the fence because of the hazardous material that was manufactured and stored there.

There is a good write up in the Portland Tribune still online from 2007 about this building.

This is a cool site, Lehman Brothers Collection where you can choose a company and read about its history.

1882: Portland Gas Light Co. builds a second and separate plant.
1892: Charles F. Adams, A.L. Mills, and other businessmen buy the company and change the company’s name to Portland Gas Co.
1910: The company incorporates as Portland Gas & Coke Co.
1913: Portland Gas & Coke Co. builds its third and last manufacturing plant in Linnton, making gas from oil, not coal.
1956: Natural gas arrives from the southwest.
1957: Portland Gas & Coke closes its manufactured gas plant and changes its name to Northwest Natural Gas Co.

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13 Responses

  1. I can certainly understand why you were curious about that building. It looks like it would have an interesting history. Pretty building…they just don’t build em like that anymore. Good work, Detective Jackie.

    • Jana,
      I know that I looked a couple of years ago and saw something that may have led me to believe it was something to do with the gas company. I wanted it to turn out to be something more enchanting than a gas factory though so maybe I blocked that out of my memory. Plus it sits on prime river front property. So if it is ever cleaned up and becomes reusable property I am sure there will be high-rise condos built there. Hopefully they won’t glow from the hazardous material that had been created and stored there.

  2. Thanks for the photos and stories. The Gasco building is an icon. My great grandfather, CF ADAMS was the president of Portland Gas and coke (GASCO) I am trying to determine if he actually had an office in that building. I believe the actual manufacturing of gas was done just east of the building in a factory long demolished. I am trying to find some photos of the interior etc. If anyone has more info, I’m all ears. Thanks, Scott

    • Scott,
      It looks like at one time it was a very elegant building. It’s hard to get close enough to take current photos so I looked on the internet. My SIL was going to do some research because he thinks the building is haunted.

    • I was interested in your comment about C F Adams and the possibility that he was my grandfather’s boss! My grandfather, J L Hallett, came to Portland from Massachusetts around 1892 to be supervisor/manager of the gas works. I’ve been unable to find much info about his time here or the nature of his job, but I think he left around the time of the 1894 flood.

    • Scott – I was interested in your comment about C F Adams and the possibility that he was my grandfather’s boss! My grandfather, J L Hallett, came to Portland from Massachusetts around 1892 to be supervisor/manager of the gas works. I’ve been unable to find much info about his time here or the nature of his job, but I think he left around the time of the 1894 flood.

    • Hey Scott – My Dad worked in that building around the mid 50’s. (The employees used to refer to it as “Portland Gasp & Choke”). It was built in 1913. Was your great-granddad still at the helm by that date? This building was closed down in 1957, and has been vacant since. There’s a fair amount of info on line if you Google Portland Gas & Coke. Yeah, it is both architectually intriguing and very spooky. My Mom used one of her images of it to make postage stamps on-line and gave them to the family as Christmas gifts. They are seriously cool. I’m sure many Portlanders would be disappointed to find their romantic guesses about it’s past to be so far off base.

  3. I’ve had a curiosity about this bldg for years as well… And would LOVE to get in there…or at least see photos from the early days… And have long had feelings about paranormal activity there…

  4. I am with everyone else that drives past there wondering. Would love to see this building restored and used for a community place. However found out today that they have no current interest in doing anything with it. If ever this changesd I would lover to personally be involved.

  5. It’s sad that it just sits there and wastes away. It should be restored to its former glory; even if the building wouldn’t be used for the public. I don’t understand why Northwest Natural Gas won’t sell it. Obviously they have no use for the building. It is just desrespectful to let the building sit there.

  6. While i understand the fascination with this building, I do not understand why people do not comprehend that a pre-DEQ skunk works site is nowhere to want to hang out. Hexavalient Chromium anyone? If you listening carefully enough you can hear your DNA unzipping into cancerous mutations just from looking at the photo. There is a ton of information about this site at the DEQ Superfund site. The Portland Harbor Partnership has launched an educational series called On the Waterfront about clean up of Portland riverside industrial sites. Determining responsibility and clean up methodology promises to be a decades long process. OHS and GASCO historical resources show GASCO offices only around the west side landing of steel bridge, which interestingly is where NW Natural exists today.

  7. I seriously doub it’s restorable due to industrial contamination of the area and the building itself – asbestos, lead, benzene and whatnot. The demolition would have to be dust-proofed and therefore too expensive. If the building crumbles by itself then it becomes just another hazmat pile. From the looks of its sagging roof it won’t take long now. Check out a 1970s russian movie “Stalker”,
    that area reminds me of it.
    http://www.deq.state.or.us/lq/ECSI/ecsidetail.asp?seqnbr=84

  8. My dad worked for BN railroad Portland yard for 30+ years. One night this building popped into my head. My Dad always complained about not smelling or tasting things, he died 10 years ago at 71. I always wondered why this place was boarded up when we would drive by. Toxic. Cool, but scary place. The people of Portland need to be aware of the dangers of swimming, fishing, working, living in that area.

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