Metropolitan Railway Company
Thank you to everyone that came out to our presentation Railroads in Outer Southwest Portland at the Hillsdale LIbrary, Saturday, August 5. One of the railroads we talked about was the Metropolitan Railway Company.
George Steel (Portland Postmaster, Oregon State Senator, Treasurer) and his brother James operated G.A. Steel and Company, an insurance and real estate business. In partnership with other businessmen they formed the Southwest Portland Real Estate Company and purchased 400 acres of land two miles south of Portland and subdivided it into lots. This is Fulton Park. To make the land more marketable, the brothers formed the Metropolitan Railway Company, with stock of $200,000, later increased to $400,000. This was one of the first electric railroads in the country, and the first in Portland. The Line initially had six cars and ran from Glisan Street, down second. The line started operation in January 1890, the Steels acquired control in 1892 and sold it to the Multnomah Street Railway, it went bankrupt in 1898, and was absorbed by the City and Suburban Railway in 1900, which merged with the North and South Portland line in 1923.
This convertible trolley was the first trolley built in Portland. It was advertised as being able to change from closed to open car in less than two minutes. The manufacturer, Vulcan manufacturing, built cars for several Portland streetcar companies, but went out of business after a few years.
From an advertisement for the car:
This combination car can be entirely changed from closed to open car in less than two minutes by simply sliding bottom panel upwards and swinging hinged sash and panel back against roof, where it is firmly held by safety catch. Change made easily without inconvenience to passengers or moving of seats. Manufactured by the Vulcan Manufacturing Works, M. E. Heacock, Proprietor, Portland, Oregon. Manufacturers of Coaches, Cable, Electric and Freight Cars of every description; also Frogs, Switches, Crossings and Railroad Tools of all kinds.
If you have ever wondered why this section of SW Corbett Street looks the way it does, here is your answer: The west side of the street is the abandoned right of way for the Metropolitan Railway Company, built long before the houses, or the need to access them via automobile, on this section of SW Corbett.