I've been working steadily all last week and this, so I haven't been posting much. I'm only sneaking this in because I'm at work at 10:30pm, preparing my lecture notes for my Oceanography class that kicks off at Portland Community College next Monday.
For the record, PCC, you don't fucking pay me enough.
Anyway, I wanted to post these pictures for the pure delight in the strange antiquity of them. They are taken under a section of this massive wall, built along the east bank of the Willamette River in downtown Portland.This section of the battered watercourse had been used as a sort of open-source dump, slash pile, housing development, industrial park, dock, fishing pier and concrete washout. Here's a panoramic view of the Willamette circa 1908.My worksite is along the left-hand edge in the picture above. You can see that st the time the riverbank sloped gently up to the east and was crowded with little shops, grainaries, docks and wharves and the other typical sorts of river-town commerce you'd expect in an Edwardian Portland. Sometime not long after the panoramic picture was taken this section of the river was walled off. The original banks were buried under tens of feet of fill, and the outer edge of the newly made land was armored by, in part, this 24-foot high cast-in place concrete wall.
The really incredible thing is that the entire monstrosity was cast on timber piles. These old tree-trunks remain, for the most part, still standing, still bearing the inmmense weight of the wall above them.But part of the soil at the base of the wall has washed away, and you can now shinny down the bank and peer into an opening into a world that had not seen daylight for a hundred years.
The twilight forest of pilings is a little spooky, and as I looked in a sudden shiver ran up my back, as if the ghosts of the old riverbank had just brushed across my shoulders.
The cool thing is, if you enlarge the picture above, you'll see the old timber sheeting that runs completely under the retaining wall. I have no idea if this was their idea of "forms" for the original casting or whether these were timbers from a pier deck that was used to support the casting back in the day.
The lumber itself is incredible, straight-grain cedar of the sort you'd pay the heavens and the earth to use in high-end furniture today, used at the turn of the last century as throwaway materials, dimension lumber meant to be buried and never seen again.