Friday, January 27, 2012

Portland and Liverpool


Loading sacked grain by chutes at an Albina grain dock

Not long after the first shipments of wheat and canned salmon were sent to Liverpool by the trading firm of John McCracken, immediately followed by Corbett and Ma Cleay, Portlanders began to imagine their city to be a seaport. I say "imagine" because many months out of the year deep draught sailing vessels could not make it past the sandbars on the Columbia, let alone navigate the "shallow Wallamat" as the Tri-weekly Astorian liked to point out. Never-the-less that did not stop the starry-eyed wharfingers from naming their planks of timber resting on fir piles names like: "Mersey Dock" and "Victoria Dock". But for those months that these vessels could come right into town, and the saloons on the north end were filled with English sailors whose lingo could not be understood even in their own country, let alone the American west, Portland seemed like a city of the world, rough and tumble, wide open, a place of sin and fast fortunes. 

I have not blogged for a little while. These days when I lay off the blogging it is because I am finding things too interesting to allow for a moment away from the mines of the Internet. Today I have discovered enough dastardly deeds and corruption in this city's past to makes my stomach turn. I have found out many sins to fill the pages of the book I have promised to finish by September. May God have mercy on me for my own sins and help me to not judge too harshly the pirates, crimps, and whoremongers of a hundred years past.