Thursday, May 22, 2008

Stark Street Obelisk Markers

This marker is embedded into the wall of the Lone Fir Cemetery. Notice the detail with the "P" and the "2". Also notice this marker was painted yellow at some time.

The History of Stark Street

As noted above, SE Stark Street had its early beginnings as an old wagon road called Base Line Road. The historic street was named for Benjamin Stark (1820-1898), a US senator from Oregon. In the survey of Portland, dated 1852, Stark Street is listed as an original street to downtown Portland. In Jan of 1892, a section of Base Line Rd was changed to Stark Street. This included all roadway from the east bank of the Willamette River to the Lone Fir Cemetery (21st Ave). In 1912, the Stark Street name was extended out to Montavilla (75th). It appears that for a time, the roadway went by both names. In the early 1900's, it was called Stark Street within the Portland City limits and Base Line from the edge of the city out to the Sandy River. In 1920, an attempt was made to change the name of Stark Street to Wall Street. This idea was fought and ultimately defeated. The building of the Morrison Bridge in 1887 and the removal of tolls in 1895 put an end to the Stark Street Ferry in 1895. In 1900, SE Stark Street was a gravel road and Base Line was a dirt road. Stark Street has undergone many improvements (widening) over the years. The inner portion of Stark was paved in 1915. The street was widened to a two-lane road and paved from 82nd out to Burnside St (near Gresham) in 1929.

This informative plaque enhances the P7 marker at Ventura Park on SE 117th and Stark Street

Restoration and Preservation of the Stones

An organized attempt to locate the 6 missing stones should be done. It is possible that some of the stones may be along the roadside with the top portion missing. The tops may have been sheared off during road widening or perhaps a marker met with a stray truck on the wrong day. If the stones are buried under the pavement, they are probably gone for good. If, however, the lower half of a stone is found, a restoration process could be performed to repair the stone. If the stones can't be recovered, a new stone could be placed in the proper place. It would be too expensive to chisel a new 6-foot stone, but a cheaper, shorter stone could be used (maybe a 2-foot marker with a square base) in its place. Perhaps new markers could be made with concrete and some simple forms. A cemetery or grave stone retailer may have some ideas as well.

These markers are also in need of a good cleaning. Many of the marker's identifying numbers cannot be recognized from even a few feet away. Water with a soft, natural bristle brush would be a good start. The use of a pressure washer is not recommended as it can remove and damage the basalt stone.

The P14 stone needs to be straightened. It leans badly and could use some attention. This stone is located in the NE corner of Mt. Hood Community College and is in a very accessible area.

If you have any information about these historic stone markers, have a comment or question, please contact me at:

Thank you.


Dead Man Talking said...

For what it's worth, a section of your blog was reprinted word-for-word in a planning document for Lone Fir Cemetery prepared by an outfit from Denver.

Jeff said...

Thanks Dead Man. I know, others have taken passages from my Blewett Highway blog and the Broughton Lumber Flume too. Right click, copy, paste. What can I say? Imitation is the greatest from of flattery!

KLR said...

Great work - love your blogs, I'm going to have to take a look at these markers in person someday here. I made a Google Map of them: Stark Street Etc Mile Markers, also throwing in the ones your commentor mentioned which are over in SW.

Likely you also are familiar with Baseline Rd over in Washington Co. I grew up in Morrow Co. in Eastern Oregon and we'd drive slightly north out of town to get to our own Baseline Lane, to head for what we thought of as cities - Hermiston, Pendleton, Tri-Cities, etc. There are one or two other Baseline Rds out thataway; it also serves as the northern boundary of part of Mt Hood National Forest too, I see. I was quite intrigued when I found out that Stark St was on the same latitude line.

Unknown said...

Your blogs are great. A correction on the Barbur Blvd site, though, the OE Railroad never ran on what is now Barbur. Between Portland and Burlingame Barbur is on the SP grade, I-5 is on the Oregon Electric grade.

B Mike said...

Has there been any thought or discussion about replacing the missing markers?

Anonymous said...

Very interesting stuff! I would love to see all the markers repaired or replaced. You commented about the appearance of yellow paint. Could that be lichen instead? Just a thought.