Gladstone and its 11,400 people at the confluence of the Willamette and Clackamas Rivers in the heart of North Clackamas County is not what it used to be. The spacious home of the founder, Judge Harvey Cross, once considered one of the finer buildings in town, became a funeral home and is now housing Mr. Rooter, a sewer pipe cleaning operation.
Gladstone does have serious roots. It hosted the first State Fair, the first Clackamas County Fair, and the Northwest’s largest Chautauqua meetings, attracting thousands before 1900. We’re talking some serious roots here.
As the town has changed, so has its level of civic discourse. In 1896 it hosted a grand Chautauqua featuring famed orator William Jennings Bryan. Theodore Roosevelt visited before it was incorporated in 1911. By 1920 it had a population of 1,069 with basic employment at the mills in Oregon City and West Linn.
Those days are gone now. The mills are closed, the community is now famous for its auto row on historic McLoughlin Boulevard and its great fishermen’s hog lines on the Willamette River. But there’s not a whole lot going on. Unless you go to a city council meeting or follow city goings-on. Continue reading