Neighborhood History

East Columbia is a Portland neighborhood bordered roughly by Marine Drive on the north, the Columbia Slough on the south, Interstate 5 on the west and the Levee Road dike on the east. The area’s history has been shaped by the character of its wetlands and its role as a link between Portland and Vancouver. Before it was annexed to Portland, this general area was known as Faloma.

Early Years

Native Americans of the Multnomah tribe living on nearby Sauvie Island hunted and fished along Columbia Slough for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years.

Late 1700s

Early European explorers brought unfamiliar diseases to these tribes. Epidemics drastically reduced their numbers, and the malaria epidemic of the 1830s killed about 90 percent of them.

1805-1806

The Lewis and Clark Expedition passed nearby but did not camp here.

1846

John Switzler and his family settled here. He supplied Fort Vancouver with cattle, which he pastured where Columbia Edgewater members now play golf. He also ran a post office and the first Portland-Vancouver ferry. The fare was 50 cents for a pedestrian and one dollar for a horse and rider.

1888

The Portland and Vancouver Railroad reached Switzler’s ferry landing.

1905-1910

Local residents built a rough dike along the Columbia.

1907

The original Columbia School was built as a one-room schoolhouse.

1908

Portland Yacht Club was founded on the Willamette River. In 1926 they floated their clubhouse and boathouses to the current Marine Drive site.

1917

Peninsula Drainage District #2 was formed to manage area flood threats.

1921

A more substantial river dike was constructed.

1925

Columbia Edgewater Country Club opened.

1936

The Flood Control Act led to dike improvements by the Corps of Engineers over the next few years.

1937

Columbia School was rebuilt to its current size.

1942-1943

Henry Kaiser created Vanport nearby to provide homes for shipyard workers during World War II. Their children attended Columbia School.

May 30, 1948

Flooding from a levee break destroyed Vanport, which was never rebuilt. The Vanport Flood also reached East Columbia. The Corps of Engineers soon strengthened the levees enough to withstand a 100-year flood.

1952

Jubitz Truck Stop opened.

Early 1960s

The Interstate 5 freeway was built.

1964

The "Christmas Flood" spurred evacuation, but the area did not flood.

1964-1965

Columbia School became a middle school and part of the Portland Public School District. It created an outdoor classroom that is now the Columbia Children’s Arboretum, administered by Portland Parks and Recreation.

Early 1970s

Portland annexed East Columbia, established commercial zoning here and required sewers. Area residents organized to deal with the high cost of sewer installation.

June 1977

East Columbia Neighborhood Association was formed.

1980

At this point in its history, East Columbia included widely-spaced homes, recreational areas, open meadows, vegetable farms, horse stables, dog kennels and businesses related to the trucking industry.

1983

Columbia School closed as a general school. Today, it provides classes for children with special social and emotional needs.

1990

As of the 1990 census, East Columbia, with 475 acres, had 474 people living in 238 households.

1993

The Albina Community Plan opened zoning for higher density housing.

1996-1997

Lija Loop added 32 new homes to the area. Other new houses expanded Meadow Drive and Faloma Road during the 1990s.

2000

By the 2000 census, East Columbia had grown to 753 people living in 282 households. In 1999-2000, Blue Heron Meadows added 104 new homes.

2003-2004

Mariner’s Gale/Loop brought 86 new households to East Columbia.

Nov. 2009

East Columbia Neighborhood Association expanded its borders to welcome Deltawood and Fox Hollow residents and Hayden Meadows businesses.

2010

As of the 2010 census, East Columbia has a population of 1,750.