I originally posted the Golf Jct. page on my old website as a PORTLAND PLACES page on May 21, 2008.
The railroad line through Sellwood was part of America's first electric interurban railroad, the East Side Railway Company, which opened from Portland to Oregon City in 1893. This line came down 13th Avenue and made a stop for the Waverly Golf Links at Ochoco Street before continuing south to Oregon City. In 1903, a new line split off at the Golf Links station to go east, and the Junction was called Golf Junction. About the same time, a new interurban line was built closer to the Willamette River, opening in August 1904, and the existing Sellwood line on 13th Avenue became a streetcar line. The Sellwood streetcar line was converted to electric trolleybuses in 1940, and those were in turn replaced by internal combustion buses in 1952. The last interurban service to Oregon City ended in 1958. Freight service to Oregon City ended in the 1960s when Oregon City's paper mill was connected to the Southern Pacific main line, and the track was removed by 1968. The right of way from Golf Jct. to Gladstone was sold in 2002 for use as a bike path.
Today, Golf Junction is no longer a junction, as the former Portland Traction Company line, now operated by the Oregon Pacific Railroad, simply passes through on its way from Portland to Milwaukie. However, traces of its past are still present.
Peeking out through the grass at Golf Junction are a pair of streetcar rails, perpendicular to the active railroad and in line with 13th Avenue.
This short section of track, which led from 13th Avenue to the line south to Gladstone and Oregon City, was part of the original East Side Railway and is likely the last remaining section of track of America's first interurban electric railroad.
The active Oregon Pacific Railroad has a siding here, and the switch is still operated by an antique switchstand.
The switchstand still features a cast iron sign on it to remind train crews of the derailing switch, that prevents cars on the siding from rolling onto the main track.
This flatcar, which is actually a converted gondola car, is sitting on a section of track that originally connected the two routes that crossed at Golf Junction. Today, this once important track is just a short dead-end spur.
The East Side Railway Company became the Oregon Water Power & Railway Company by 1902, and this substation was built in 1905, across 13th Avenue from the Golf Links station.
Portland General Electric still maintains a substation here, though this building itself may no longer be in use or may only be used for storage.
Across the street from the substation, the Sellwood carbarn was built in 1909. Portland has the third largest streetcar system in the world and had a number of carbarns across the system, but Sellwood's was the largest. After the streetcars and interurbans were retired, the carbarn was converted into an industrial building and housed the Molded Container Corporation for a number of years. On November 11, 2003, the carbarn was demolished and D.R. Horton's Trolley Barn Townhomes were built in its place. The carbarn's east wall was initially left in place along 13th Avenue as a decorative element, but it became unstable and was removed in March 2012.
During construction of the townhouses, D.R. Horton's construction crews started dismantling part of an adjacent rail siding owned by the Oregon Pacific Railroad. They were caught and stopped, but not before about 50 feet of track had been torn up. To protect itself, the Oregon Pacific put up a fence around its property and often keeps a locomotive parked at the end of the siding.
On the west end of the carbarn, at 8825 SE 11th Avenue, was the two-story brick Portland Railway, Light & Power Sellwood Division Carbarn Office & Clubhouse, also known as the Carmen's Clubhouse.
This building fell into disrepair after the end of passenger service, but was renovated in the early 2000s. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.
Historic Photographs, from Dave's Electric Railroads:
O.W.P. & Ry #1034 in front of the Sellwood substation
Portland Electric Power train to Oregon City at Golf Jct.
Portland Electric Power #1032 on 13th Avenue with the Sellwood carbarn in the background
Portland Electric Power streetcar at Sellwood substation
Portland Electric Power #1095 at Golf Junction, taking the Portland to Oregon City route
Portland Electric Power freight train at Sellwood substation
Sellwood at PdxHistory.com
Interurbans at PdxHistory.com
Oregon Electric Railway Historical Society
Portland Vintage Trolleys
The Rise & Fall of the Portland Traction Company
East Portland Branch of the Oregon Pacific Railroad
Dave's Electric Railroads