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Willamette Shore Trolley History

First Red Electric Train through Elk Rock Tunnel

The Right-of-way of the WST dates back to the 1880s as a narrow-gauge steam railroad linking Portland to Oswego (as Lake Oswego was known back then) and south into the Willamette Valley. The Southern Pacific acquired the line and converted it to standard gauge.

In 1914, the line was electrified, and Red Electric Interurban service was born. One could board a Red Electric Car and ride to Portland, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Newberg, McMinnville, and Corvallis. In 1921, the Elk Rock Tunnel was opened, replacing a wooden trestle that went around Elk Rock. Passenger service ended in 1929, but freight service continued until 1983.

In 1984, the Southern Pacific filed for abandoning the line from Lake Oswego to Portland. A Consortium of local governments and agencies acquired the line to preserve it for future transit use. 

Blackpool # 48 on the WST

In 1987, the Willamette Shore Trolley was born. The first car on the line was Blackpool Double-Decker #48, operated by the Oregon Electric Railway Historical Society. Later, a different entity operated other heritage trolleys on the line. The OERHS took over the service again in 1995 with the double-decker and later with a Portland Brill Master Unit streetcar.

The line was extended north to Riverplace at one point but was later cut back to Moody St to permit Portland Streetcar to enter the south waterfront district.


The Double-Decker and the Master Unit were retired back to the Trolley Museum in Brooks due to the wear and tear of running the cars on the WST. The streetcar operated today is a modern-built Vintage Trolley.

The Vintage Trolley #514 was used on the Portland MAX line and Portland Streetcar as a tourist draw. The car is one of 4 cars built in 1991 for this service. Although popular with the tourists, the frequency of MAX and Portland Streetcar left little time slots for the VT cars to operate. St. Louis leases VT # 511 and 512 for a new streetcar line. VT513 and VT514 are now residents of the WST. 

Willamette Shore Trolley
311 N. State Street
Lake Oswego, OR 97034
Phone: 503-697-7436

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