River View Cemetery, Part 1

Dear Liza,

Yes, this makes Failing look good….

Yesterday, Auntie Bridgett and I decided we wanted to go on an adventure. We wanted to ride our bikes across the Willamette to the River View Cemetery. It would take about half an hour to get there, and we had maps to show us a good bicycle route. But we hit a snag.

Auntie Bridgett’s Brompton folding bicycle, Nigel, had a flat back tire. Fixing it would involve tools she doesn’t have and time she didn’t want to spend, so we changed our plans. We would drive Nigel to Clever Cycles, then continue driving to River View.

Eva, checking Nigel out

Clever Cycles on SE Hawthorne is the first bike shop we ever went into here in Portland. Auntie Katie rented us bikes from here to ride around town years ago. Eva, one of the many bike mechanics there, looked at Nigel and agreed that she and her colleagues would take care of Nigel and we could pick him up in about a week.

We headed across the river and south to River View Cemetery.  I’ve been told that “there’s a lot of good streets buried in River View,” and that this is the “high class cemetery.” It certainly is better maintained than Lone Fir…the lush grass is watered so often in these dry summer months that my sandaled feet got damp. Even the oldest stones are clean and legible, with no ancient grass covering them and no vandalism to be seen.

Dead people’s view of the River

And this does seem to be the high-rent district for dead folks. George Abernethy,  the first Provisional Governor of the Oregon Country, died five years before River View was founded, was buried in Lone Fir, then moved to River View. I guess Lone Fir had too much riffraff.

Founded in 1882, River View holds many of the founders of Portland, names that are familiar to anyone who has even briefly visited the city. William Ladd,  (Ladd’s Addition), James Terwilliger,  (Terwilliger Curves,) and Henry Pittock. (Pittock Mansion) are all within shouting distance of each other.

Their headstones are often huge,  needing to impress upon you just how important these men were. Besides their headstones, there are three benches in a part of the cemetery called Founder’s Park where Mr. Ladd, Henry Failing and Henry Corbett are memorialized, with their accomplishments carved in stone. It seems a bit…much.

Mr. Failing’s bench

However, a bench is a bench, and we enjoyed Mr. Failing’s quiet company as we ate our cheese and crackers. I will tell you more about this interesting cemetery tomorrow!


Grandma Judy

Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

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