Portland General Electric Photograph Collection

Station A Station A Old Station A during flood Vancouver substation Vancouver substation, moving Vancouver substation, during construction, showing framework for first floor and new sub foundation Station L Station L, generators Station L Station L Station L, boiler room Station L, hog fuel pile Station L, hog fuel pile Station L, derrick and barge Station L, unloading hog fuel Station L, dumping hog fuel Station L, furnace of boiler #6 Station L, tower support Station L, electrical units Station L, electrical units Station L, electrical units and pipes Station L, electrical units and pipes Station L Station L, electrical unit Station L Station L, exterior view Station L Center Street shops
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Identity elements

Reference code

Org. Lot 151

Name and location of repository

Level of description



Portland General Electric Photograph Collection


  • 1880 - 1965 (Creation)


303 glass negatives; 277 cellulose nitrate negatives; 362 safety film negatives

Name of creator


Administrative history

Portland General Electric Company was founded as Willamette Electric Company in 1888 by Edward L. Eastham and Parker F. Morey. Beginning with a hydro-electric generating plant on Willamette Falls, Station A, the company grew quickly. It acquired many of the other electrical interests in the Oregon City area and in 1892 it was reorganized as Portland General Electric. Between 1892 and 1906, PGE acquired many other small electrical utilities and electric railroads, growing its holdings rapidly.

In 1906, the company once again reorganized itself as Portland Railway Light & Power Company. It operated several electric streetcar lines, including an extensive system in the city of Portland. Ridership fell in the late 1920s and the company again reorganized itself into Portland Electric Power Company (PEPCO), with two subsidiaries: Portland General Electric as the electric utility and Portland Traction Company as the railroad. PEPCO went into bankruptcy in 1939, ultimately selling all of its railroad holdings to the Portland Transit Company in 1946 and reorganizing one final time into Portland General Electric (PGE) in 1948. It was bought by Enron in 1997 but as of 2006 PGE is independent.

PGE built many power generating plants in both Oregon and Washington. These plants were primarily hydro-electric, but they also built several steam plants, a gas plants, a coal-fired plant and a nuclear power plant

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

Negatives documenting company activities, including electrical infrastructure, employees, power generation and distribution throughout Portland, the Willamette Valley and the Oregon Cascade Range. Additional general images include streetcars and trains, street lighting, power line installation, Rose Festival floats, office buildings, car barns and bridges. Of particular note are dam building projects at Bull Run and along the Clackamas River (1910-1930), and early electric stations in Oregon City at Willamette Falls.

System of arrangement

The negatives in Series A are arranged by original numbers assigned by Portland General Electric based on subject.
The negatives in Series B are arranged by Original numbers assigned by Portland General Electric based on year.

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Conditions governing access

Physical access

Due to the high-risk nature of the format, the Portland General Electric negatives are not available to the public for physical access. A small number of photographic prints (1949-1966) created from Series A and B negatives are available for public use.

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Images created before 1900: No Copyright - United States http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/NoC-US/1.0/

Images created after 1900: Creative Commons - Attribution, Non-Commercial, ShareAlike (BY-NC- SA) http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/

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Existence and location of originals

Featured negatives are a small selection of the physical materials from the Portland General Electric Photograph Collection, 1873, 1888-1966.

Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials

Portland General Electric Photograph Collection (1873, 1888-1966): Org. Lot 151, Oregon Historical Society Research Library, http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv192657

Portland General Electric Collection (circa 1870-2012): Coll 415, Oregon Historical Society Research Library, http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv52194

Other photographs related to Portland General Electric can be found in the Oregon Historical Society Research Library as call numbers: PGE 16-342, PGE 139-2, PGE 137-3, and 000652.

Portland General Electric's annual reports for the years 1956-1967, 1972-1977 and 1983 can be found in the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

The PGE Bullseye can be found in the serials collection at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library. The periodical was renamed PGE Newsline and can also be found in the serials collection at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Two films are related to this collection:

The Incredible, Lovable Heat Pump, MI# 07884

Bull Run Fish Ladder, MI# 07892

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