Mountain Line Pipe Completes South Fork Exhibit

OREGON CITY - The addition of a twenty-seven inch long pipe piece on loan from the South Fork Water Board has completed the exhibit on the South Fork Water Line on display at the Clackamas County Historical Society’s Museum of the Oregon Territory in Oregon City. The project was the brainstorm of Mark Hurlburt, the historical society’s Volunteer Coordinator, and Aaron Beaulieu, who first introduced him to the remains of the water line along the South Fork of the Clackamas River. The two 2006 graduates of Clackamas High School have journeyed numerous times by raft across the Clackamas River, or by rope down a steep hillside to the roadless area where the remnants of an important part of Clackamas County history are unknown to most of the county. The area, well hidden by overgrowth, is located approximately ten miles south of Estacada. The South Fork Water Line’s history began in 1914 when Oregon City commissioners created the “Pure Mountain Water League” to find a new source of drinking water for Oregon City residents to replace what had been served to them out of the polluted Willamette River. They decided upon the South Fork of the Clackamas River where it meets Memaloose Creek. The City of West Linn joined the project and together the cities created the South Fork Water Board to oversee the installation and maintenance of the pipeline. On October 7th, 1915, the first water from what was known as the “Mountain Line” flowed through the gravity fed system for twenty-six miles and emptied into one of Oregon City’s new reservoirs. Although a filtration plant was built on the Clackamas in the 1950’s, the pipeline continued to serve the cities until 1985 when it was abandoned due to EPA concerns with the line’s turbidity readings, and a 100 foot-long section of the line sliding off a hill along the Clackamas. The remnants of the operations along the South Fork include two log bridges, the rusting settling tank, several man-made caves and tunnels, and long portions of the pipe itself. Along with two gorgeous waterfalls, it is a pretty special place for someone who loves history, nature and adventure. A plaque accompanies the pipe piece, commemorating the services of the “Mountain Line” to the cities of Oregon City and West Linn. Mr. Doug Crawford, employed for 8 years with the South Fork Water Board’s Maintenance & Operations division, created the pipe display out of a salvaged section of the old iron relic that once carried 15 billion gallons of drinking water in its lifetime.  Crawford cut, ground, pressure washed and clear-coated the pipe segment, leaving a few colorful river rocks embedded in its supports for an artistic and historic look.  A Clackamas River Basin Council permit was required to remove the pipe.  John Collins, General Manager of the SFWB, states, “It was just the right thing to do.  It enhanced fish passage, by opening up the natural course of the river’s gravel bed, necessary for fish migration.”  The water line exhibit will be on display through 2013.  Admission is free at  the Museum of the Oregon Territory through the end of the year.  MOOT is located at 211 Tumwater Drive in Oregon City and is open from 11am to 4pm on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. ### Contact:  Roxandra Pennington -