Cast iron pipes can still be seen on the Willamette shore below the site of the Oswego Pipe Works.  Photo S. Kuo


Aug. 10, 1900, Oregon City Enterprise p5

BIG TRANSFER.—County Recorder Randall was given an instrument to place on record Monday that involves the transfer of tracts of land on the north and east side of the Tualatin river, aggregating 404.31 acres. The grantor is the Oswego Iron & Steel Company and the grantee is the Willamette Falls Company. The consideration named is $38,672.13. The deed contains a special stipulation wherein the grantor reserves to itself and its successors water rights and dams in the Tualatin river, riparian rights, etc., except that already held by N. O. Walden, or the Willamette Falls Company.


Nov. 16, 1900, Oregonian p7

EXPLOSIONS CONTINUE.—The heavy reports from exploding dynamite at Oswego continued all day yesterday. One hundred tons of the condemned ordnance sold at Forts Canby and Stevens was taken to Oswego and broken up about a month ago, and a short time since 200 tons more of old cannon was taken up there and is now being broken up into pieces suitable for melting. Some of the guns are very large, and, as the iron is of the best quality, it takes a heavy charge of dynamite to break them up. The material is to be used at the pipe foundry in Oswego for casting water pipes, and it will make good ones.


June 28, 1901, Oregon City Enterprise p1

A motion was filed Tuesday to modify the decree in the case of August Krause vs. the Oregon Iron & Steel Co. The defendant sued for damages to his land, caused by the construction of a dam across the Tualatin river above Oswego and was awarded $100. The court ordered that it should not be raised higher than its present position and the defendants’ attorney in writing the decree worded it to read that the dam should not be raised more than 24 inches from its foundation. The plaintiffs attorney asks that the dam be maintained in its present position and that the decree be so modified.


July 12, 1901, Oregonian p12

Ask a Decree to Be Modified.

Judge McBride held court yesterday in the courtroom of department No. 1 to hear a motion for a modification of the degree in the suit of August Krause vs. the Oregon Iron & Steel Works. This is a Clackamas County case, and concerns a dam in the Tualatin River. It was built in 1888, and is located at a point where Rock Creek empties into the river, and has stopped the flow of the waters from the creek into the river, thus causing the lands adjacent to Rock Creek to become flooded and damaging the crops. The decree restrains the defendants from maintaining a dam more than 24 inches high. J. Couch Flanders and A. S. Dresser, counsel for the Oregon Iron & Steel Works, desired the decree amended so that it shall state that the dam as it now exists is a legal dam. Statements were made that the dam without flashboards, which have been removed, is not objectionable. Considerable discussion was indulged in on the question as to how high the dam is. Judge McBride said his recollection of the evidence was that it was 24 inches, and he was of the opinion the height ought to be stated in the decree.

C. M. Idleman, as attorney for Krause, objected to a modification of the decree, and wanted it stated just how high the dam is. He intimated that if it was slightly over 24 inches he would not object. Opposing counsel did not know positively the precise measurement, and were willing to have a surveyor measure it. Mr. Idelman refused to consent to open up the case again, saying the testimony was all in. After some further argument the court concluded to take the matter under advisement.


March 21, 1903, Oregonian p5


….Hollis Alger has commenced work on the construction of a logging railroad about six miles in length, to tap the large body of timber owned by the Oswego Iron & Steel Company, near Skamokawa.


Oct. 1, 1903, Lake County Examiner (Lakeview, Oregon)

A Big Copper Refinery

The Ladd Metals Company, which was incorporated in Portland recently for the purpose of refining copper ore, has purchased and started to convert the iron smelter at Oswego, a suburb of Portland, into a refinery of sufficient capacity to handle the copper product of the entire Northwest. The refinery will be the only institution of its kind west of Argentine, Kas.

The Oswego smelter was originally constructed to handle iron ore, and was operated for a considerable period, but of late years it has been idle and the plant practically abandoned. The Ladd Metals Company includes some of the wealthiest men in Portland.


Nov. 2, 1903, Oregonian p10

MUSEUM MAY GET IT — Meteorite May Be Retained in Portland by Colonel Hawkins

Since there has arisen so much excitement in regard to the meteorite discovered some two miles from Oregon City, a picture of which was given in the Oregonian Saturday, many persons have expressed surprise that Colonel Hawkins had not been on the lookout to secure a specimen for the free city museum. These persons will be pleased to learn that Colonel Hawkins has been in the front, as is usual in such matters, and that he is quite certain to secure the mass of metal for the free museum, as several of the directors of the Oregon Iron & Fuel [sic] Company, on whose land it was found, are of opinion that it should be placed in this museum. Mr. Hawkins has had a piece of the mass in his possession for about four months, and has been waiting to ascertain definitely whether it is a meteor or a mass of iron ore. Some indications tend to show that it is not a meteor, but a mass of iron deposited there during the glacial period. The only granite found in this section consists of a number of boulders, some not far from where the mass was found, all of which have beyond doubt been deposited during the glacial period. The cavities or “blowholes” in the mass, which some consider proof that it is a meteorite Colonel Hawkins has decided were formed by the action of the elements and the growth of moss in shallow pools formed on the surface during the thousands of years since it came to anchor where it was found.

The persons who have gone to considerable labor and expense in moving the mass by means of tackle and a rude carriage on block wheels from the land of the Iron & Fuel [sic] Company to the land of some one else evidently under the mistaken idea that if a stolen article was placed on one’s own land the ownership of it would be changed, have not waited to ascertain the value of it and are, therefore, likely to be out and injured. If the mass is simply bog iron it is of but little value. If it is a meteorite its value as a curiosity would hardly pay for transporting it any great distance.

As it belongs to the Oregon Iron & Steel Company it is likely in either case to be turned over to Colonel Hawkins for the museum here. He has been up with Mr. Gorman, assistant to Secretary Patullo, of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company, and thoroughly examined the mass, the spot from which it was exhumed and the course over which it was moved by means of a wire cable and tackles, and as soon as the nature of the specimen has been fully decided will be prepared to act.

The taking and carrying away of all sorts of things has become all too common in these days, but a mass of some seven tons of base metal has not been dragged half a mile before, and if the attempt to carry it away should succeed it will be necessary for any one on whose property a meteorite shall fall in the future to see that it is not allowed to cool.


Nov. 28, 1903, Oregonian p4

Suit for a Meteorite

OREGON CITY, Or., Nov. 27.—(Special.) – The Oregon Iron & Steel Company today brought a replevin suit in the Clackamas County Circuit Court to recover possession of the huge meteor that was recently discovered near this city. The company is represented by Williams, Wood & Linthicum, of Portland, and complains that the meteor, which was found on its land, is wrongfully withheld by the defendant.

This is the metallic curiosity that recently excited so much wonder in this state. It has been pronounced a genuine meteorite by a representative of the Smithsonian Institute at Washington, and is reported to be the largest of its kind in the United States.


Dec. 3, 1903, Oregonian p9

METEOR AROUSES STRIFE.—The several persons who have been desirous of securing possession of the large meteor found near Oregon City, among whom are an agent of the Smithsonian Institution and L. L. Hawkins, who hopes to obtain it for the free museum in the city hall, are sorry that it has become the cause of a law suit. The agent of the Smithsonian Institution advised Mr. Hughes, who moved the meteor off the lands of the Oregon Iron and Steel Company, to surrender it, as the company had liberally offered to reimburse him for the expense incurred in “moving” it. But he refused to compromise the case. There is a great diversity of opinion as to the value of the meteor. The intrinsic value of it appears to be not large. When the foreman of the iron and steel company was told that it would be worth $20 a ton to him to melt up, he replied that he would not want to set his men at work to break it up for $20 a ton. The Smithsonian Institution has a large number of meteors, and only desires this one on account of its large size and would not likely pay any large sum for it. The place where it naturally belongs is in the free museum here, and there it will doubtless be deposited.


Ellis Hughes & son
Ellis Hughes and his son with the Willamette Meteorite.  Morning Oregonian Nov. 3, 1903

Dec. 4, 1903, Oregon City Enterprise p1

WANT IT BACK — Oregon Iron & Steel Company Has Begun an Action To Recover Possession of Metallic Curiosity, Which, it is Alleged Was Stolen

The Oregon Iron & Steel Company has brought a replevin suit in the Clackamas county circuit court to recover possession of the huge meteor that was recently discovered near this city. The company is represented by Williams, Wood & Linthicum, of Portland, and complains that the meteor, which was found on its land, is wrongfully withheld by the defendant. This is the metallic curiosity that recently excited so much wonder in this state. It has been pronounced a genuine meteorite by a representative of the Smithsonian Institute at Washington and is reported to be the largest of its kind in the United States.

After setting out that it is a corporation duly organized and existing under the laws of the state of Oregon, the plaintiff company alleges that it “was and still is the owner and entitled to the immediate possession of the following personal property, namely, an irregularly shaped mass or piece of iron ore, probably of meteoric origin, of the weight of fifteen tons or thereabouts and of the value of $1000, which said iron ore, was, prior to the institution of this suit, without right or color of right, removed by the defendant from the lands of the plaintiff, situate in Clackamas county, Oregon, being a part of the J. D. Miller Donation Land Claim and known as tract No. 18, as shown by the records and said personal property is now in the possession of the defendant and located in Clackamas country, Oregon, and said defendant, wrongfully and in Clackamas county, Oregon, withholds possession of said personal property from the plaintiff. Demand has been made for the plaintiff upon the defendant for the return of said property but he refuses to return the same. Wherefore, plaintiff demands judgment against the defendant for the recovery of the possession of said personal property and for its costs and disbursements.”

Strife for the possession of the meteor has been great since its value as a curiosity was disclosed by an examination by the government representative. Should the plaintiff in the pending action get possession of the meteor, it is surmised that it will be donated to the Portland Museum.


April 29, 1904, Oregonian p4

ELLIS LOSES THE METEORITE — Oregon city Jury Declares the Steel Company the Owner.

OREGON CITY, Or., April 28.—(Special.)—The jury in the replevin suit of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company vs. Ellis Hughes, for possession of a meteorite discovered near this city last Winter, found for the plaintiff.

The defendant, Ellis Hughes, was charged with having removed the meteor from land belonging to the plaintiff.

The property in dispute is a metallic mass weighing about ten tons, and is the largest meteorite ever found in the United States, while there is but one other in the world of greater size. In defending the title of the defendant to the meteor, the defense introduced some Indian tradition of an ingenious invention to the effect that the meteor had been located on the land in question for nearly 70 years and had been used as a receptacle for poisonous deposits into which Indian warriors would dip their arrows just before an engagement. Two local Indians were called by the defense and testified to these facts in support of the claim that the metallic deposit was personal property.

This is the second case of the kind that has ever been tried in the United States.


Aug. 9, 1904, Oregonian p1

Other Court Decisions.

SALEM. Or., Aug. 8.—(Special.)—The Supreme Court today rendered other decisions as follows:

August Krause, respondent vs. Oregon Iron & Steel Company, appeal from Clackamas County, T. A. McBride, Judge, affirmed; opinion by Justice Wolverton.

This was a test case brought to determine the right of the defendant company to maintain a dam in the Tualatin River in Clackamas County to the injury of farmer on low bottom lands above the dam. Plaintiff prevailed and on appeal has a decree enjoining defendant from maintaining a dam higher than two feet above the lowest art of the general contour of the bed of the stream.


Sept. 12, 1904, Oregonian p14

GIVEN TO LOCAL COMPANY — Contract for Water Pipe and Fittings To Be Filled in Oregon

The Oregon Iron and Steel Company has been awarded the contract for pipe and fittings to be furnished the Water Board for $25,737.50. This is the contract awarded the United States Cast Iron Pipe and Foundry Company of Chicago last week for $25,660. At the time the contract was awarded the question of inspection arose as a matter which would add greatly to the cost of the pipe required and in the long run cost the city more than would be the case if the contract was given to the local firm.

During the argument over the matter it was claimed that inasmuch as the call for bids did not specify that the pipe would have to be inspected if constructed outside of Portland the board could not legally reject the lowest bid and accept a higher one, even though it would be of great benefit to the city to have the work done here. The representative of the Chicago firm agreed to stand the expense of inspection and the board awarded the contract.

Mayor Williams was opposed to giving an outside company the contract when the local firm’s figures were very little higher and, after looking into the matter thoroughly, refused to sign the contract.

The board was called together in special session and after an explanation by the Mayor the former action was reconsidered and the contract awarded to the Portland firm, of which W. M. Ladd is president.


Jan. 20, 1905, Oregonian p4

FELL FROM SKY — Meteorite’s Possession Is Fought in Court — FINDER LOSES HIS SUIT — Infinite Toil of Ellis Hughes In Moving Mass — LAY ON CLACKAMAS HILLSIDE — Owners of Property Adjoining Oregon Iron & Steel Company Are Also Defeated in Attempt to Obtain Big Piece of Iron

                     THE METEORITE

  •           Dimensions                Feet  Inches
  •           Length . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10    …
  •           Breadth . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7    …
  •           Vertical height . . . . . . . . 4    …
  •           Circumference of base  25   ½
  •           Analysis                      Per cent
  •           Iron . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   91.65
  •           Nickel . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7.83
  •           Cobalt . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     .21
  •           Phosphorus . . . . . . . . .     .09
  •           Specific gravity,  7.7

OREGON CITY. Or., Jan. 10.—(Special.)—After deliberating for six hours a jury in the Circuit Court at 3 o’clock this morning returned a verdict for the defendant in the case of R. Koerner and F. J. Meyer against the Oregon Iron & Steel Company. This suit was brought for the possession of an 18-ton meteorite, valued at $10,000. Discovered near this city several moths ago, and which has been in dispute as to its ownership ever since its discovery. The trial of the case occupied two entire days.

This is the second time that the Oregon Iron & Steel Company has established its legal claim to the molten mass, having defeated a similar suit a few months ago, in which Ellis Hughes, the discoverer of the meteorite, claimed its possession by right of discovery.

The principal value of the immense metallic curiosity lies in the fact that it is the largest meteorite of its class that was ever discovered in this country and the third largest in the world. It has been reported that the Iron & Steel Company will eventually present the meteorite to the Portland Museum.

Lodged on a Hillside

The discovery of the meteor was made by two prospectors, Ellis Hughes and William Dale, in the Autumn of 1902. It was found lodged in a hillside, three miles above the mouth of the Tualatin River and about two miles northwest of this city. They soon ascertained that their supposed strike was on land belonging to the Oregon Iron & Steel Company, and in prosecuting their investigations as to the extent of the mineral deposit discovered shortly after that their supposed iron reef, which was but ten feet long and but a yard deep, was a meteorite. They became more secretive than ever and covered their find most carefully by concealing its surface with a quantity of brush and dirt.

In August 1902, Hughes conceived the idea of moving the great iron mass to his home, about three-fourths of a mile distant. Possessing only one horse, besides himself and 15-year-old son, as motive power, this seemed an impossible task, but being a practical miner, resourceful in pluck and energy, Hughes set about the task, and at the end of three months had successfully landed the molten mass alongside his house.

The Rape of the Meteorite

Hughes [illegible] fashioned a simple capstan with chain to anchor it and a long braided-wire rope to roll up on it, as his horse traveled around it as a winch. He then constructed an ingenious car with log body timbers and sections of tree trunks as wheels. These, together with some heavy double-sheaved pulleys, constituted his outfit for the difficult undertaking.

Slowly and tediously did he raise the immense missile, which was finally capsized upon the car, where it was securely lashed. He then stretched out his 100-foot hauling wire rope, attached one end of it to the car and the other end to his staked-down capstan, and started his horse going, with the result that the meteorite was successfully transported some days not to exceed the length of the car, while on another day 50 yards would be covered.

Visitors Thronged to See

So quietly did Hughes and his son conduct the work that their near neighbors, not a mile distant, did not surmise anything until after the meteorite had been deposited at Hughes’ house. Visitors from all sections of the Valley thronged to scrutinize the strange mineral mass, while scientists from the National capital and Chicago visited the Coast to make a scientific investigation.

Representatives of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company conducted a quiet investigation, and, having satisfied them selves that the meteorite was taken from land belonging to the company, advised the bringing of a suit to recover possession of the curiosity.

Claims Right by Discovery

At the December, 1903, term of the Circuit Court, a suit was filed by the Oregon Iron & Steel Company against Hughes. In his defense, Hughes alleged rightful ownership of the meteorite by reason of its discovery, on the ground that the particular property coming from without the world, and its ownership being vested in no person or corporation, it belonged to him as its original discoverer.

Counsel for Hughes called as witnesses two local Indian characters, Jon Susap and Sol Clark, who gave testimony that a tradition had been handed down to them by their ancestors relating that the early Indian tribes in this section had worshipped the monster as an idol, the purpose of this testimony being to prove that the meteorite was an abandoned property and as such might be claimed as abandoned or lost property.

In instructing the jury on this question, the court held that, while the molten mass came from without the world and was the property of no one, still it was to be considered the gift of God to the man on whose property it was deposited. The jury awarded the meteorite to the Oregon Iron & Steel Company. An appeal is now pending in the Supreme Court.

Two Holes of Equal Size

A month ago, R. Koerner and Fred Meyers, superintendent and boss mechanic respectively, of the Oregon City Woolen Mills, who own land in the vicinity in which the meteorite was discovered, filed a suit against the Oregon Iron & Steel Company, in which they asked to have restored to them the contested property, which they alleged had been removed from their land, or to be reimbursed in the sum of $10,000. It was this suit that has just been concluded.

It developed at the trial of the case that there are now two holes in the earth near where the meteorite was originally discovered, either of which is of the proper dimensions to have been the resting place of the iron mass. One of the holes is located on the land belonging to the Oregon Iron & Steel Company, and the other is located on the property belonging to Koerner and Myers, each opening in the earth being about 100 feet distant from the claim line that divides the two properties.

Hughes is Not Called

In the trial of the case Hughes, whose testimony would have been essential in settling the controversy, was not called to the stand, but nine witnesses were called by the plaintiffs, the majority of whom testified to the effect that the meteorite was positively removed from the excavation on the Koerner and Meyers property.

In its defense, the Oregon Iron & Steel Company offered testimony to show that at the original hearing of the Hughes case there existed no opening in the earth on the Koerner and Meyers property such as that which is now found there. Tuesday and Wednesday were occupied in offering testimony, the case not being submitted to the jury until 9 o’clock last evening.


Jan. 22, 1905, Oregonian p6

METEORITE CHANGES HANDS — Oregon Iron and Steel Company Bringing Big Stone to City

OREGON CITY, Or., Jan. 21.—(Special.)—By an order of the circuit Court today, Sheriff Shaver was directed to take charge of the large meteorite, the subject of recent litigation, and remove the same from off the property of Ellis Hughes, where it has been kept in a shed for exhibition purposes pending the termination of the suits as to its ownership.

Workmen for the Oregon Iron & Steel Company, which has been awarded the possession of the metallic mass, will begin the removal of the property Monday, under the direction of sheriff Shaver, who is required to give a bond for the performance of the work. It is the purpose of the company to have the meteorite transported to Portland at an early date.


Feb. 5, 1905, Oregonian p6

WATCHES SKY ROCK — Deputy Sheriff Guards Meteorite At All Hours

OREGON CITY, Or., Feb. 4.—(Special.)—If the Oregon Iron & Steel Company’s meteorite were a mass of gold of the same proportions, it could not be guarded any more carefully than it is.

William Dale, on whose land the meteorite is now lodged pending its removal by the steel company, is opposing the company in its efforts, and threatens to enjoin the company from proceeding. Sheriff Shaver, however, is carrying out the orders of the Circuit court in causing the meteorite to be moved by the Oregon Iron & Steel Company’s representatives.

William Reams was today appointed Special Deputy Sheriff to guard the curiosity day and night, and see that no interference is offered in the removal of the mass. The contractor having in charge the task arrived today, and is arranging to begin the work of removing the meteorite the first of the week. It will be brought to this city on huge sleds and then loaded upon a barge and taken to Portland by the river.


Feb. 17, 1905, Oregon City Enterprise p3

By the payment of $25 and making several valuable concessions, the Oregon Iron & Steel Company secured from Prof. T. J. Gary permission to remove their meteorite across a corner of Gary’s land. This insures smooth sailing for the meteorite unless some unforeseen and improbable contingency arises. When the meteorite has been moved over the 100 feet of ground across the Gary claim it will be on land belonging to the Oregon Iron & Steel Company over which it can be readily conveyed to the county road and thence to this city where it will be loaded onto a barge and taken to Portland.


June 22, 1905, Oregon Daily Journal p10

METEORITE CASE IN SUPRME COURT — Famous Stone From Other World Is Causing Much Litigation

Salem, Or., June 22.—The Oregon city meteorite case was argued before the supreme court yesterday. This is an action brought by the Oregon Iron & Steel company to obtain possession of the metallic meteorite found by Ellis Hughes in November, 1902, on the land of the Oregon Iron & Steel company about two and a half miles west of Oregon City. The interesting subject of this controversy was found standing upright on a slight knoll. It is of metallic composition, with a dull, rusty surface its top or flat surface being gouged out into huge potholes or washbowls. As it stood it resembled very much in appearance a mammoth mushroom or inverted bell, in size 7 by 10 feet across at the top, and four and a half feet thick, its weight being estimated at from three to four tons. It has the specific gravity of soft iron, and in composition is 90 per cent soft iron, 10 per cent nickel, with a trace of cobalt, all fused together.

Hughes alleged that this was an abandoned Indian relic and that he was the first white discoverer of it and believing he had a right to it, he constructed a rude wagon and hauled it to his own home, about three quarters of a mile distant. He alleged that this meteorite was the property of the Clackamas tribe of Indians (now disbanded and nearly all dead), and that they had a tradition that this magic rock, called by them “Tomanowos.” Came from the moon, and possessed supernatural influence. He claimed that it was fashioned, erected, maintained and used by them to the fluid in which they were wont to dip their arrows before engaging in battle with their Indian foes, and that their young warriors were compelled to journey over there and visit this spirit being on the darkest nights. To substantiate these claims two Indian witnesses were produced, who testified that the above facts were true, according to the legends of their tribes. One of them was a member of the Klickitat tribe of Indians and the other was a Wasco Indian.

Both parties to this case agree that the object is a meteorite, but no proof has been offered by either to show when it arrived on earth. The Oregon Iron & Steel company denies that it is an Indian relic, and claims title to it by virtue of ownership of the land upon which it was found.

C. E. Hayes and C. D. and D. C. Latourette appeared for Hughes and Williams, Wood & Linthicum represented the Oregon Iron & Steel company.


July 13, 1905, Oregonian p14

Water Board Meets

At a meting of the Water Board yesterday Mayor Lane was present to examine figures submitted for the last two months. The report of the superintendent of water works showed that between April 1 and June 30 receipts amounted to $125,83`.35; disbursements $142,942.28.

Petitions for water mains were referred for investigation, while others were granted by the superintendent and City Engineer. The board decided to purchase from the Oswego Iron & Steel Company, of Oswego, 1000 tons of pipe at $38 a ton. The board allowed Gieblach & Joplin, contractors, $1965 for extra labor in grading the roadway west of the reservoir in the City Park.


437a LO Lib
The meteorite being moved on a sledge.  Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Public Library.

August 13, 1905, Oregon Daily Journal p19

TOMANOWAS STONE ON SHOW — Photograph of the Four-Ton Meteorite Found Near Oregon City — It Will Be Shown at the Fair.

(Special Dispatch to The Journal.) Oregon City. Aug. 12.—The Willamette Falls meteorite, now that all litigation has finally been settled, is actually on its way to Portland, where the Oregon Iron & Steel company will place it on exhibition at the Lewis and Clark fair and afterwards will present it to the Oregon Historical society. It will probably become part of the permanent exhibit at the Portland city hall.

The meteorite is about one mile from the town of Willamette Falls and about a mile and a half from the landing on the Willamette river below the town.

It is now being moved on a kind of sledge to the river by means of a capstan and teams. The work of moving it was begin yesterday and is in charge of Mr. Allen of Portland. He has two crews of six men each and two teams of heavy draft horses at work and the labor of moving is carried on day and night. Mr. Allen thinks it will take about 10 days to get the meteorite to the river, where it will be loaded on a marge and towed to Portland.

The meteorite was discovered about two years ago on the lands of the Oregon Iron & Steel company by Ellis Hughes. It was a flat side up, like a toadstool or bell inverted and surrounded by hazel bushes.

Mr. Hughes began to move it over to his own land, using a capstan and team. The Oregon Iron & Steel company enjoined him from moving it and the case was tried in the circuit court of Clackamas county, the court awarding the meteor to the iron and steel company.

The suit was appealed to the supreme court of Oregon, where the decision of Judge McBride was sustained.

In the appeal a point was raised that is new in Oregon jurisprudence. The appellant claimed that the meteorite was abandoned property; that the Clackamas Indians called the stone “Tomanowas” and believed it fell from the moon. They allege that is was fashioned and maintained by them to hold the fluids into which they dipped their arrows when they went to war.

The meteorite is 7 by 10 feet across the top and 4 ½ feet thick and its weight is estimated at four tons. Its specific gravity is that of soft iron. Its composition being 90 per cent iron, 10 percent nickel, with a trace of cobalt.

[The Oregon Iron & Steel Company has the distinction of being the only iron company to have legally established a claim on extra-terrestrial iron.]


Oct. 10, 1905, Daily Capital Journal p6


A visitor from Mars or some other distant region or plant recently arrived at the Lewis and Clark exposition. This massive meteorite of twenty tons weight is the biggest shooting star that has ever been found in any land. It has not yet been weighed, but its weight has been estimated at about eighteen to twenty tons. Twelve of the most powerful horses in Portland were required to haul this mysterious mass of metal from the steamer to the exposition grounds. The meteorite was found in the woods of Clackamas county, Ore., about two miles from Oregon City and fifteen miles from the exposition site, in the autumn of 1902.


Oct. 18, 1905, Oregonian p8


The lowest bidder for the pipe for the new water mains of Portland cannot have the contract, because the Ladd people, who control the Oswego Iron Works, want it, and William M. Ladd is president of the Oswego Iron Works and head of the Water Commission of the city of Portland. For these reasons, and under these conditions, the City of Portland cannot get lowest prices for pipe for its new water mains.

The same influence is paramount in street pavement, since the Ladd estate controls the asphalt company, with which competition is not to be permitted. Its influence is paramount in all the operations of the city, under the present Mayor. It contributed all its efforts and no little money to elect him. The Executive Board, appointed by the Mayor, is under the Ladd dictation. And the municipal government is used and is to be used in every affair, and at every time, in the same general direction.

The object of this plutocratic effort is to govern the City of Portland and the State of Oregon, for private aggrandizement. It will strive to control the legislative power and the courts of the state, as well as the municipality of Portland. In such matters as the Johnson estate and the Marquam estate, and many more, what opportunities,–if the courts should be complaisant!

Here is a plutocracy that already has established its power, in large degree, over the government of the City of Portland, and hopes to establish it over the State of Oregon. It is utterly unscrupulous; it pretends to virtue, indeed, but that always is part of the game of an insidious but grasping plutocracy. It usually falls in with the creed of some orthodox church that money prevails with, and promotes Christian and philanthropic associations.

In Portland this greed, masquerading in the garb of virtue, philanthropy and holiness, cannot become the permanent governing force. It will be turned down and out the very next time people go to the voting booths.


William M. Ladd

Oct. 19, 1905, Oregonian p1

W. M. LADD QUITS WATER BOARD — Scandal Over Pipe Line Leads to Tender of Resignation of Bidder — REFUSES TO GIVE REASONS — Bidders Who Lost to Member of the Board Declare They have Been Buncoed and Express Their Disgust

LADD’S BIG PIPE CONTRACTS — Pipe contracts awarded to the Oswego Iron Works, of which William M. Ladd is president, by the City Water Board, of which Mr. Ladd is a leading member, in the last two and one-half years, as follows:

  • April 8, 1903 . . . . . . . . . $ 52,553
  • September 15, 1905 . . . . .25,737
  • April 15, 1905 . . . . . . . . . . 71,976
  • October 10, 1905 . . . . . . 152,888
  • Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $303,154

In the same period two other pipe contracts have been let, both to the United States Castiron Pipe & Foundry Company, of Chicago, as follows:

  • January 18, 1904 . . . . . $ 60,432
  • November 8, 1904 . . . . . 17,100
  • Total: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 77,532

W. M. Ladd has tendered to Mayor Lane his resignation from the City Water Board, apparently in response to the complaint that as a member of that board he could not legally receive pipe contracts from it for his Oswego Iron Works, though he said last night that he had offered his resignation Monday, which was before the complaint burst out.

Mayor Lane refused to discuss the matter yesterday, so that it could not be learned whether he would press Mr. Ladd to stay on the board. Mr. Ladd himself refused to state the reasons for his withdrawal, saying he preferred that Mayor Lane make them public.

Violated the Charter

Mr. Ladd is president of the Oregon Iron & Steel Works, which received a $152,888 contract from the Water Board for water pipe last Monday, and which was received several other contracts from the same board in the last three years, in clear violation of the city charter, which makes it unlawful for a member of the board or any officer of the city to receive a contract from the municipality.

Of the six pipe contracts let by the Water Board in the last 2 ½ years, four were awarded to the Oswego plant, and in two of the four awards the Oswego bids were higher than competitors, leaving only two contracts fairly won by the Oregon Iron & Steel Works, which owns the Oswego plant and whose president is William M. Ladd.

Ladd Gets Heavy Contracts

Of the total expenditures for pipe, authorized by the Water Board in the 2 ½ year period, the Ladd plant has secured $303,000, or 30 per cent, and the United States Cast Iron Pipe & Foundry Company, winner of the two other contracts, $74,600, or 20 per cent.

The contract let to the Ladd company in September, 1904, for $25,737, was won fairly by the United States Cast Iron & Foundry Company, for the latter’s bid was $87 less than that of the Oswego works, just as the bids of the Martin Pipe & Foundry Company for the cast iron pipe contract, awarded to the Ladd works last Monday, was some $1800 lower. The Water Board in September, 1904, carried a motion to notify the United States Company that its bid would be accepted, providing that company would pay the cost of inspecting the pipe at the foundry. The company surprised the board by agreeing to pay that cost; whereupon the Water Board, several days later, rescinded the motion and let the contract to the Oregon Iron & Steel Works, on the ground that an award to the United States Company would be unfair to the other outside bidders, who had not been allowed the same opportunity to include the inspection expense in their bids. These facts are displayed in the city records.

City Has No Inspector at Oswego

As to the inspection of pipe at the foundry, it is notorious that the city has no inspector at the Oswego plant, yet the Water Board has been insisting that pipe made at outside foundries shall be examined by the city’s inspectors, before it shall be accepted.

“Buncoed” is what the outside bidders say of themselves in discussing the Monday award to the Oswego works. Their representatives, one and all, declare that never again will they bid on water pipe for Portland, at least not until there shall be a fair deal reform. Among those who expressed their disgust were J. S. Mammerslough, representing Joseph T. Ryerson & Son, Chicago; John Batchor, representing the Shaw-Batcher Company, Sacramento; Field, representing the Risdon Iron Works, San Francisco; Vanderburg, representing the New Jersey Pipe Company. All these men have shaken the dust of Portland from their feet, saying they don’t care if they never come back.

Disgusted Bidders Say Bunco

Two bunches of disgusted bidders are in the “buncoed” class, one of them containing those who bid on steel pipe; the other, those who bid on castiron pipe. The steel men put in bids between $35,000 and $50,000 lower than the castiron bid of the Oswego works, while the Martin Pipe & Foundry Company, of San Francisco, bidding on castiron, was some $1800 under the Oswego bid.

The Oswego plant makes only castiron pipe, and because the steel-pipe men had no show before the Water Board, they suspect that they were frozen out for some thrifty reason. One of them said last Monday, before departure, that he was reliably informed the Oswego company could not fill the contract, because of its small facilities, and that it had agreed to whack up the business with the United States Castiron Pipe & Foundry Company. Inasmuch as the local foundry has been boasting that it was a home industry, he did not see that its claim for patronage on that score was valid. Besides, the local company imported all its pigiron for the pipes from Scotland and Alabama and did not use Oregon ore.

Steel Men Dispute Claim

The steel men vigorously dispute the claim of the castiron men that castiron pipe is better than steel-riveted. J. R. Bowles, local representative of the Shaw-Batcher Company, Sacramento, said that the steel-pipe bid of his firm was $50,000 less than the castiron bid of the Oswego works, and that the money saved in steel pipe, compounded at 5 per cent interest, would renew the pipe very 20 years, though the actual life of steel pipe was much more than that length of time. He said that the biggest cities in the world were using steel water-pipe both for supply and service mains in preference to castiron, and cited that in San Francisco at this time a 48-inch steel pipe was being laid in Harrison street. As for the repairs which have been necessary in the Bull Run steel-pipe line, he pointed out that many more repairs had been necessary in the castiron mains in the city, and referred to the many breaks that had occurred.

Pipeline Oregonian1895Jan1p17a

Oct. 22, 1905, Oregonian p1

MUST BID ANEW FOR PIPE LINE — Water Board Rescinds Its Work and Readvertises For Bids — MAYOR LANE’S ADMISSION — Acceptance of Bid of Oswego Works While Ladd Was Member of Corporation and Board Is Declared Illegal


First—Resolution adopted rescinding former action of board with reference to bids for pipe, and calling for new bids from castiron manufacturers exclusively, the same to be opened November 22. This contemplated the rejection of all bids heretofore submitted, and the return of the certified checks to the bidders.

Second—Free-for-all argument indulged in after adjournment in which Mayor Lane admits that the Oregonian is correct regarding the disqualification of the Oswego Company’s bid, and says eminent legal authority holds the same view.

Third—Mayor Lane states, after the meeting, that if the board had not rejected all bids he would have refused to attach his signature to any contract with the Oswego concern on account of the illegality of its bid.

Fourth—Agent Haines, representing the East Jersey Pipe Company, censures the Water Board for inviting bids on riveted steel mains without any intention of considering them, claiming that his house had been put to the expense of $1000 on a wild goose chase. Also ridiculed board’s contention that railroad company would not be responsible for damages in case of breakage in shipment of pipe from Birmingham, Ala.

Fifth—Paquet, Glebisch & Joplin permitted to retain contract for laying pipe.

From a spectacular standpoint, the special meeting of the Water Board yesterday, called to consider the situation relative to bids for pipe, was one of the most thrilling that has occurred in years, the proceedings being distinguished throughout by practical admissions that the exposures of The Oregonian were true in every particular, and the grand finale coming when all bids were rejected, certified checks ordered returned, and new bids advertised upon the exclusive basis of cast-iron piping, although it developed in the course of the arguments that none of the members of the board had investigated the relative merits of the different materials, and was in no position to speak from an unprejudiced standpoint, their opinions upon the lasting qualities of riveted steel and cast-iron being based entirely upon the assumptions of Chief Engineer Clarke, of the Water Department.

Mayor Lane’s Admission

To add to the discomfiture of the board, Mayor Lane, while differing with The Oregonian in almost everything else, openly proclaimed that this paper was correct in it contentions relative to the illegality of the award to the Oregon Iron & Steel Company, and, after the board had thrown out all the bids, remarked with an air of relief, “I think you have done right now. I wish you had done it a week ago. It would have saved a world of misery.”

Almost as soon as the board convened in special session yesterday afternoon, Dr. Josephi arose and offered the following resolution:

Whereas, Doubt has been cast upon the validity of a contract to furnish cast-iron pipe, if entered into, based upon the vote of the board, October 10, 1905, awarding the same to the Oregon Iron & Steel Company, for the reasons that William M. Ladd was then a member of this board (though he took no part in its deliberation nor did he vote upon the question of award), and was at the same time a member of the corporation whose bid was accepted; therefore, be it

Resolved, That the vote by which the contract to furnish cast-iron pipe was awarded the Oregon Iron & Steel Company be now reconsidered.

Some Desultory Discussion

Some desultory discussion ensued, which was participated in by all the members present, including the Mayor, as to whether there had actually been any award of contract, Dr. Josephi holding that the acceptance of the bid of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company carried with it an award of the contract, and he moved to reconsider the vote by which the bid of the Oswego plant was accepted, asserting that it would have the effect of doing away entirely with any doubt relative to the disposition of the certified check.

Dr. Raffety seconded the motion, and it was carried unanimously.

Dr. Josephi: “Now, with the consent of my second, I withdraw my motion to award the contract to the Oregon Iron & Steel Company.”

Mayor Lane: “I guess I am willing.”

Mr. Bates: “Now, gentlemen, I move that we reject all bids and readvertise for cast-iron piping.”

Dr. Josephi: “We have settled upon the proposition to readvertise for cast-iron pipe and specials, and I think a proviso ought to be inserted in the contract imposing $150 a day liquidated damages for any delay that may arise in supplying the material.”

In obedience to a concordance of ideas, the Mayor ordered all bids for furnishing pipe readvertised, and set Wednesday, November 22, at 9 A. M., as the hour for opening proposals, bids for cast-iron material alone to be considered. It was further agreed that the bid of Paquet, Glebisch & Joplin for laying the pipe should stand, and the contract awarded to them upon their proposal to do the work for $34,535.

Method of Proposal

In conformity with yesterday’s proceedings, scaled proposals will be received by the Water Board until November 22, for furnishing and delivering the following approximate quantities of castiron water pipe and special castings: Four hundred and fifty lengths 20-inch castiron pipe, weight per length, 1920 pounds; equals 433 tons; 210 lengths 16-inch castiron pipe, weight per length, 1390 pounds, equals 146 tons; total weight of pipes, 578 tons.

Special castings for castiron water pipe equals 26,000 pounds.

Bidders must state the price of pipe per ton of 2000 pounds and the price of special castings per pound, all delivered f. o. b. cars Portland.

With each bid must be deposited a certified check for $1000, payable to thee order of the Auditor of the city of Portland, and bonds to be approved by the Mayor will be required of the successful bidder. The right is reserved by the Water Board to reject any or all bids. The specifications are in accordance with the standard adopted by the New England Water Works Association.

The written withdrawal of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company was received, and, at the suggestion of Dr. Josephi, was placed on file. “It comes in as a withdrawal after we have already rejected all the bids,” said Dr. Josephi, “and all be can do is simply to file it.”

Sends for a Policeman

During the proceedings George C. Strow and a man named Steward became so clamorous for a hearing that the Mayor was finally obliged to send for Policeman Quinton to preserve order. The two belligerents saw the officer first, however, and avoided the impending crash by beating a masterly retreat.

After everyday else had apparently finished, and the Board was on the point of adjourning, Mr. Haines, representing locally the East Jersey Pipe Company, arose to a question of privilege, and stated that his house had sent a representative here from the East at an expense of $1000 in response to calls for bids on riveted steel pipe, when it was apparently never the intention of the Board to consider that material. After censuring the body for what he regarded as a trifling way of doing business, and calling attention to the fact that such methods would injure this city in the eyes of outside manufacturers, Haines was informed by Mayor Lane that if he could show that riveted steel was the best material, the Board would like to have the information.

Speaks for Riveted Steel

Haines cited a number of instances where steel-riveted pipe had been in the ground many years and given satisfaction, and also claimed that castiron piping frequently burst under high pressure, involving great financial loss in replacing it. Replying to an inquiry from the Mayor, Haines said that no pipe manufacturer could give a guarantee. Castiron, said he, found favor because it was the oldest, but when repairs were considered, he did not think it was the best.

After Haines had stated his case, Mayor Lane thought that if he had presented his arguments at the time the bids were submitted, it might have had considerable weight, and hinted that it might not be too late even then to enter into competition.

“If steel pipe is to be considered,” responded Haines, “we want to have a chance, but, if not, please don’t put us to the expense of coming here. We sent a 30-inch sample of pipe here for inspection, worth $50, and nobody has seen it.”

Chief Engineer Clarke admitted the receipt of the sample, but said that no letter or anything to identify it having come to hand, he had sent it to the toolhouse at Fourth and Market streets. “Clarke further contended that the representative of the Eastern firm had come here at his own invitation.

Mayor Lane was of the opinion that, inasmuch as the firm had sent a sample of its material, and took that much interest in the matter, it was only right and proper to have called the Board’s attention to it.

Haines Will Write

After some more of this kind of talk, Haines said he was going to write to his firm and tell that it was not favoritism that governed the Board’s action.

An animated discussion then ensued concerning the legality of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company’s bid. It was purely of an informal character, as the board had adjourned. Dr. Josephi said that Judge Williams, while Mayor, had ruled that under the charter, Mr. Ladd had the right to sit as a member of the board so long as he did not participate in the proceedings to award personal bids.

Mayor Lane stated that he had taken the matter up with one of the best attorneys in Portland, who told him Ladd was entitled to sit on the board under the circumstances. His Honor did not like the taste of things, however, and consulted another attorney, and the two lawyers got together, and finally agreed that the board had been ill-advised all along. The Mayor said his legal advisors had concluded that section 135, on page 54, of the charter, absolutely prohibited the board from making any award to the Oswego Company while Mr. Ladd was a member of the body, and to a representative of The Oregonian after adjournment the Mayor said in his emphatic way that if the board had not rescinded its action and called for new bids, he should have refused to attach his signature to any contract sought to be entered into with the Oregon Iron & Steel Company.

Dr. Josephi Pleads Justification

Dr. Josephi pleaded in justification of not considering riveted steel in the calculations, that, while they had advertised for castiron and steel material, they had done so to find out the difference in cost more than anything else, in order to make up their minds which to accept, and stated that he felt the board was entirely justified in so doing. “So far as I am concerned,” said he, “I don’t think this board ought to be bound down to any special kind.”

Mayor Lane said it was a mistake to have awarded the bids under the circumstances, and asserted that The Oregonian was perfectly right in its contentions.

If it developed that not one of the members of the board had made any investigation touching the relative merits of the two materials. The body had relied entirely upon Engineer Clarke’s report, and it is now up to the steel men to demonstrate the extent of knowledge that has been shown upon the subject.


Oct. 22, 1905, Oregonian p6


The Water Board has thrown out steel riveted pipe from competition for the big contract which it will award a month hence, and will buy only cast-iron pipe, thereby increasing the cost $50,000. Why?

Ostensibly because cast-iron pipe is more durable than steel. But is this the fact?

Portland receives all its water from Bull Run through a steel tube, thirty miles long, which supplies every pipe in the city. If it is inferior or faulty, how can cast-iron pipe for service mains be more efficient?

Repairs to the Bull Run pipe have been necessary, it is true, but everybody knows that the cast-iron pipes in the city have needed repairs too. Those persons whose streets have been torn up and their cellars flooded by burst mains will remember.

The biggest cities in the world use steel water pipes. In San Francisco a forty-eight-inch steel main is being laid at this very time. The Standard Oil Company, which uses more pipe than any other single organization in the world, employs steel riveted pipe, practically to the exclusion of other kinds.

Now the board shuts out steel altogether, and perhaps for good reason; the number of competitors will be diminished and perhaps the Oswego foundry can yet get the job; in fact, other bidders are so disgusted by the treatment accorded them when the Oswego bid, though, higher than a rival’s, was accepted last Monday, that they declared they would not bid in Portland again.

If Mr. Ladd’s Oswego foundry made steel pipe the tale might be different. As things are, the city is going to spend $50,000 more for cast-iron pipe than steel would cost, making the price about $150,000. The city could save a big sum of money by buying steel pipe—enough at compound interest to renew the pipe in twenty years; while as a matter of fact the life of the pipe would be much longer than that.

The actions of the Water Board, if continued in this direction, will be no credit to itself nor to a reform administration.


Jan. 3, 1906, Oregonian p7

CAST-IRON MAIN BURST — WATER BOARD KNEW OF IT WHEN LADD’S BILL WENT IN — Matter is Kept Secret Until Company Injured by Flood of Water Sends in Bill

A six-inch cast-iron water main, manufactured by the Oswego Iron Works, and sold to the city water department during Ladd days, burst at Fifth and Oak streets last October and flooded the establishment of the Breyman Leather Company to such an extent that yesterday the firm presented a bill to the judiciary committee of the Council and asked for $282.60 damages. The matter was referred to City Attorney McNary for his legal opinion.

This is the same type of piping the Oswego plant attempted to foist upon the city at the time it submitted a bid for the high-service main from Mount Tabor to a connection with the present mains at Killingsworth avenue. The scheme only failed of success through the exposures of The Oregonian. The Water Board was then cognizant of the situation, and at the time the question of letting this contract was considered, was aware that the cast-iron pipe at Fifth and Oak streets had burst. While terribly industrious in exposing every possible defect that might have existed in riveted steel mains, even to the extent of uncovering section after section of the Bull Run system in the effort to discover some excuse for awarding the bid to the Oswego people, no mention whatever was made of conditions existing at Fifth and Oak streets.

The fact that the Breyman Leather Company has refrained from making any claim whatsoever to the Water Board, where it properly belonged, and only presented it to the Council committee nearly three months after the occurrence, would seem to indicate a disposition on their part not to embarrass the Water Board at a time when a claim for damages based upon such a reason might have created all kinds of rude impressions, so far as public opinion is concerned.

Superintendent Dodge, of the City Water Board, expressed surprise yesterday after the meeting of the committee, that the Breyman Leather Company had not sent in its bill to the Water Board, and said it was the first intimation he had received that any damage had been done by the bursting of the cast-iron main. He admitted, however, that the pipe burst October 21, and a comparison of dates demonstrates that this was about the time Mayor Lane, William M. Ladd, then a member of the Water Board (and also president of the Oswego Iron Works), together with other distinguished authorities on the subject of the relative merits of the two materials, were contending that riveted steel piping was greatly inferior to cast iron for water main purposes, and that in the peculiar soil adjacent to this city the life of the former was not more than 25 years, while that of the latter was little short of eternity. Chief Engineer Clarke was even sent on a junketing trip East for no other object, it is alleged, than to gather evidence in favor of cast iron. All this happened at a time when the rotten six-inch main of this material at Fifth and Oak was belching forth its contents to the great damage of surrounding basements.


The Willamette Meteorite on display.  Wikimedia Commons: Credited to American Museum of Natural History and published in the New York Times.

Feb. 21, 1906, Oregonian p14

WILLAMETTE METEORITE — Sold to Natural History Museum in New York

The famous Willamette meteorite has been sold by the Oregon Iron & Steel Company through Cuyler, Morgan & Company to a client who will present it to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The transaction was carried on by William McMasters, of Portland, and the price paid was $20,600, which is said to be the highest price ever given for a meteorite.

The huge mass of ore is one of the best specimens of meteorite ever discovered, weighing about 15 tons. It was found near the banks of the Tualatin River in Clackamas County. After its discovery, it was the object of much litigation between those who claimed to have found it and the Oregon Iron & Steel Company, on whose property it was discovered. A decision was finally given by the State Supreme Court in favor of the company.

During the Exposition the meteorite was exhibited in the Mining building, where it attracted much attention. It is said that it here first came to the notice of the rich scientist who has now purchased it for the American Museum of Natural History.


Feb. 23, 1906, Corvallis Times p1

Portland, Feb. 22.—The Journal says what is believed to be the highest price ever paid for iron ore was received yesterday by the Oregon Iron & Steel Works when it sold the Willamette meteorite, found near Oregon City a number of years ago, to the Smithsonian institute for $20,000. Its estimated weight is 15 tons, equivalent to 30,000 pounds. So the price paid is 66 2/3 cents a pound.

The Willamette meteorite has proved a mystery to scientists ever since its discovery. It was removed at great expense and placed on exhibition at the Lewis and Clark fair. That it came from beyond the clouds there is no doubt. But there is a difference of opinion as to how the great meteorite happened to be along the Willamette river. Some believe that it fell from the skies to the point where it was found, while others are confident that it was carried there from the north during the glacial period. In support of this latter theory it is pointed out that glacial marks are visible at the point where the big meteorite was uncovered.


Tualatin Diversion Dam 6381
Diversion dam on the Tualatin River.  Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Public Library.

March 8, 1906, Oregonian p5

RICH LAND FLOODED — Oregon Iron & Steel Company Causes Loss to RanchersDAM PUT IN THE TUALATIN — For Eight Years Dilatory Tactics Have Been Used in the Courts, While Fruitful Acres Lie Waste.

OREGON CITY, Or., March 7.—(Special.)—For eight years a considerable acreage of rich agricultural land bordering on the Tualatin River near this city has been rendered impossible of cultivation. The responsibility for this condition belongs to the Oregon Iron & Steel Company, which, through its dilatory tactics, is exhausting every legal recourse to avoid a compliance with the mandate of the State Circuit Court for Clackamas County.

In 1888, when the Oregon Iron & Steel Company was operating its plant at Oswego, the company installed a dam in the Tualatin River at a point near the confluence of that river with the Willamette, in order to supply a flume constructed for the purpose of delivering wood from the Upper Tualatin country to the company’s plant at Oswego. This obstruction caused the Tualatin River to overflow, flooding a considerable acreage to the rich and productive agricultural land on either side of that stream.

Owners of this property found their land rendered useless for the reason that the water did not recede, making it [im]possible to cultivate the land until late in the Fall, during the dry season, when there remained an insufficient time in which to cultivate and harvest a crop of any kind before the land was again inundated by reason of the Winter rains.

The farmers appealed to the management of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company for relief, but receiving no satisfaction, August Kraus, in 1901, instituted suit against the company for $1000 damages and a decree of the court enjoining the corporation from further maintaining the obstruction in the river. The case was tried in the Circuit Court the following June, when Judge McBride awarded the plaintiff damages in the sum of $100, his costs taxed at $215.80, and directed that the dam be abandoned. In his decree, he said:

“If the said dam is allowed to remain across the said Tualatin River in its present state, it will be a permanent and irreparable injury to the plaintiff.

The defendant company appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which, in every respect, affirmed the judgment of the lower court. But still further to delay the final determination of the matter, the company, by its attorneys, filed a motion requiring Judge McBride to interpret the decree of the Appellate Court. This motion was dismissed by Judge McBride, on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction, and from this ruling the Iron & Steel Company has again carried the case to the Supreme Court.

In the meantime, as has been stated, the lands affected by the dam, which is now worthless to the Oregon Iron & Steel Company, since the corporation is not operating its mill [sic] at Oswego, continue to remain practically worthless to the owners. The appeal on Judge McBride’s ruling is now pending before the Supreme Court at Salem.

Detail of c. 1881 map of the Oswego area by Borthwick Batty & Company. Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Public Library.  Early maps sometimes called the Lake “Lake Tualatin.”

March 9, 1906, Oregon City Enterprise p6

CANNOT USE LAND — DAM ON TUALATIN INUNDATES FIELDS — Oregon Iron & Steel Company is Slow in Complying With Court’s Mandate

For eight years a considerable acreage of rich agricultural land bordering on the Tualatin river near this city has been rendered impossible of cultivation. The responsibility for this condition belongs to the Oregon Iron & Steel Company, which, through it dilatory tactics, is exhausting every legal recourse to avoid a compliance with the mandate of the state circuit court for Clackamas county.

In 1888, when the Oregon Iron & Steel Company was operating its plant at Oswego, the company installed a dam in the Tualatin river at a point near the confluence of that river with the Willamette, in order to supply a flume that was constructed for the purpose of delivering wood from the upper Tualatin country to the company’s plant at Oswego. This obstruction caused the Tualatin river to overflow, flooding a considerable acreage of the rich and productive agricultural land on either side of that stream. Owners of this property found their land rendered useless for the reason that the water did not recede, making it possible to cultivate the land, until late in the Fall during the dry season when there remained an insufficient time in which to cultivate and harvest a crop of any kind before the land was again inundated by reason of the winter rains.

The farmers appealed to the management of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company for relief, but, receiving no satisfaction, August Kruse, in 1901, instituted suit against the Company for $100 damages and a decree of the court enjoining the corporation from further maintaining the obstruction in the river. The case was tried in the circuit court the following June when Judge McBride awarded the plaintiff damages in the sum of $100, his costs taxed at $215.80, and directed that the dam be abandoned. In his decree, he said: “If the said dam is allowed to remain across the said Tualatin river in its present state, it will be a permanent and irreparable injury to the defendant [i.e., ‘plaintiff’].”

The defendant company appealed the case to the Supreme Court which in every respect affirmed the judgment of the lower court. But to still further delay the final determination of the matter, the company, by its attorneys filed a motion requiring Judge McBride to interpret the decree of the Appellate court. This motion was dismissed by Judge McBride on the grounds of lack of jurisprudence and from this ruling the Iron & Steel Company has again carried the case to the Supreme Court.

In the meantime, as has been stated, the lands affected by the dam, which is now worthless to the Oregon Iron & Steel Company, since the corporation is not operating its mills [i.e., iron furnace] at Oswego, continue to remain practically worthless to the owners. The appeal on Judge McBride’s ruling is now pending before the Supreme Court at Salem.

It might be a source of some information to know that Senator Brownell is one of the attorneys for the Oregon Iron & Steel Company in the proceedings incident to the trial of this case. So far as the interested farmers themselves are concerned, it is more than likely they have a very distinct recollection of the relation the different parties bear in the case.

[The iron company needed the diversion dam on the Tualatin to maintain a water level in the lake high enough to send water through a pipeline to the foundry.]


Aug. 3, 1906, Oregon City Enterprise p7


The Oregon Iron & Steel company has filed notice in the recorder’s office of the appropriation of 1,296,000 cubic inches of water from the Tualatin river. The ditch will be known as the Tualatin and sucker Lake canal, the point of diversion being at the same place as the intake of the present canal.


Aug. 17, 1906, Oregonian p6

BIG HOLE BLOWN IN DAM — TUALATIN FARMERS’ LANDS ARE FLOODED EVERY YEAR — Court Decision Against Company Directed Removal of All But Upper Portion of Work.

OREGON CITY, Or., Aug. 16.—(Special.)—The Oregon Iron & Steel Company’s dam in the Tualatin river at Willamette, near this city, was dynamited at an early hour this morning by unknown persons. An opening more than 20 feet wide was blown from the center of the dam which was built about 20 years ago at a cost of about $5000. The company will undoubtedly immediately repair the injury. The dam is about 100 yards wide with a height of nearly five feet.

For several years the dam has been the cause of constant friction between the company owning the property and farmers residing along the Tualatin River. On account of the dam considerable farm land is annually deluged by the waters of this stream, to the injury of crops, while some of the land has become untillable.

While the dam was built in the early ‘80s, farmers did not sustain any damage to their lands therefrom until 1888, when the company added flash-boards by which the height was increased 24 inches. On this account the lands bordering on the Tualatin frequently become inundated, while other agricultural land on Rock Creek suffered the same damage by reason of the backwater.

The purpose of installing the dam was to supply the company’s canal, extending from Sucker Creek [correction: from Sucker Lake] to the Tualatin river, with sufficient water from logging purposes. Failing to obtain any satisfactory understanding with the corporation, August Krause brought suit in the Circuit Court against the Oregon Iron & Steel Company for damages. Krause won his suit and was awarded $100 damages. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, which sustained the judgment of the lower court.

It was then discovered that the decree of the trial court was not clear, in that the Sheriff was directed to proceed with the removal of all but the upper 24 inches of the dam. This being a physical impossibility, the Sheriff balked and counsel for the defendant company filed a motion demanding that Circuit Judge McBride interpret the mandate of the Supreme Court. This being overruled, the case was again appealed to the Supreme court, where it is now pending on that motion.

By maintaining the dam the steel company owns valuable water rights and without this obstruction in the Tualatin the company must necessarily abandon the canal it has constructed between Sucker Lake and that stream.

[The canal was not built by the iron company; it was built by the Tualatin River Navigation & Manufacturing Co.in 1873 and acquired by the Oregon Iron Company in 1877.]


Oswego pipe foundry workers.  Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Public Library.

August 23, 1906, Oregonian p8

PIPE CONTRACT LET — Oregon Iron and Steel Company The Only Bidder — INCREASE IN PRICE PAID — Mayor Lane Advocates Wooden Mains, and Board Votes to Investigate Advisability Giving Them a Trial

Portland now has to pay $39.50 a ton for cast iron mains, where a year ago they could be had for $35.75. Yesterday, at a special meeting of the Water Board, the Oregon Iron & Steel Company was awarded the contract to furnish 197 tons of cast iron mains at $39.50 a ton, at $7,781.50. This was the only bid submitted.

Part of the pipe is needed on Second street, and the contractors are protesting because it is not on hand. Consequently, the members of the Water Board either had to delay the work still further or award the bid to the Oregon Iron & Steel Company. A. S. Pattullo, representing the company, stated that the price of cast iron had advanced, and quoted Eastern market quotations, showing that there was an unprecedented demand for it.

Superintendent Dodge explained that eight different concerns had been requested to submit bids, and that the Oregon Iron & Steel Company was the only one which had responded. There was some hesitancy about awarding the contract, but it was finally done.

‘Why wouldn’t wooden mains do just as well?’ broke in Mayor Lane just before the vote was taken upon the award of the contract. Major Lane has been strongly advocating the texting of wooden mains. “Wood pipe is said by some engineers to be as good as any mains that can be laid in the ground,” he continued, “and they do not cost nearly so much as the wooden [sic] ones.”

But it was decided that the need of the present lot of pipe was immediate, and the contract was awarded by a unanimous vote. Engineer Clarke, of the water department, was instructed to make an investigation as to the practicability of laying wooden mains in Portland, He was given authority to visit other towns in the course of his investigation, if he thinks is necessary.

There is but little doubt that wooden mains will be given a fair trial. It is the sentiment of the board to have a small quantity of it laid so as to test it. Wooden mains are in use in Seattle, Tacoma, Salt Lake, Walla Walla, Pendleton and many other cities in the West.

Wooden mains cost less than half as much as cast iron, and their life is said to be just as long as that of the latter. The wood will remain intact, provided it is saturated with water. This preserves the material. But if the water is withdrawn and the mains are allowed to dry, deterioration begins.

The Oregon Foundry Company was awarded a contract to supply the water department with 14 split sleeves at 3 ¼ cents per pound. The contract amounts to about $350. For this work the Oregon Iron & Steel Company bid 4 cents per pound, and the Smith-Watson Foundry Company 4 ¼ cents per pound.

Engineer Clarke submitted a report showing that a gravity supply was available for the Highland district. To connect the new district with the present distributing system will cost approximately $8750 for mains. Engineer Clarke and Superintendent Dodge were authorized to make arrangements to secure whatever kind of pipe they considered best. It is possible that wooden mains will be laid.

Engineer Clarke also reported that to replace old mains with new and larger mains, as recommended in the report of the National Board of Fire Underwriters, would cost $100,512.25 for pipe alone. The report was placed on record.


Aug. 24, 1906, Oregon City Courier p4

TUALATIN DAM IS DYNAMITED — Unknown Persons Blow Hole In Structure of O. I. & S. Co.

The dam of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company in the Tualatin river at Willamette was dynamited early Thursday and an opening 20 feet wide was made in the center of the structure.

The perpetrators of the outrage are unknown. It is said that the dam was responsible for an annual deluge of water which injured the crops, making some of the land untillable, and the farmers of that section have protested against the dam a number of times.

The dam was built early in the ‘80s, at a cost of $5,000, and in 1888 flashboards were added, increasing the height 24 inches. This caused the frequent inundation of lands on the Tualatin. Some time ago August Krause brought suit against the company for damages, and was awarded $100 in the circuit court, and the company appealed, but the verdict of the lower court was sustained by the supreme court. The sheriff was directed to remove all but the upper 24 inches of the dam, but found this to be an impossibility, and the company filed a motion for an interpretation of the supreme court mandate. Judge McBride overruled this motion, and the company again appealed, and this portion of the case is still pending.

It is supposed that the Oregon Iron & Steel Company will go to work at once to repair the damages. The dam was installed for the purpose of supplying a canal extending to the Tualatin from Sucker Creek, and without the dam the canal would be practically valueless.


Aug. 24, 1906, Oregon City Enterprise p1


The Oregon Iron & Steel company’s dam in the Tualatin river at Willamette, was dynamited at an early hour Thursday morning of last week by persons unknown. An opening more than 20 feet wide was blown from the center of the dam.

The dam was built about 20 years ago at a cost of $5000, and it is about 300 feet long and nearly five feet high. The Company will repair the break.

Because of the dam some of the farm land along the Tualatin river is annually deluged at high water to the great injury of crops. While the dam was built in the early 80’s it was not until the addition of flash-boards raising its height two feet, that the river bottom lands frequently became inundated, and other agricultural lands on Rock creek suffer damage by reason of backwater.

By means of the dam, the company’s canal from the Tualatin to Sucker creek [correction: to Sucker Lake] is supplied with enough water for logging purposes. August Kruse brought suit against the company for damages, winning his suit and being awarded $100 damages. The verdict was sustained by the Supreme court. The decree of the trial court, however, directed the removal of all but the top 24 inches of the dam, a physical impossibility. That started more legal sparring and the case is again in the Supreme court.

Sept. 14, 1906, Oregon City Enterprise p8


The Oregon Iron & Steel company will pay a reward of five hundred dollars for the arrest and conviction of the person, who, on or about the 16th day of August, 1906, destroyed by dynamite or other explosive a portion of the dam of said Oregon Iron & Steel Company across the Tualatin river, in Clackamas county, state of Oregon.

Dated at Portland, Oregon, August 23d, 1906, THE OREGON IRON & STEEL CO., By A. S. Pattullo, Secretary


Sept. 9, 1906, Oregon City Courier p2

NEWS OF THE COUNTY — OSWEGO.  A number of the relatives of John Kiser arrived from Ironton, Ohio, last Saturday, with the intention of locating in Portland.

The Oregon Iron & Steel Co. are rebuilding the dam across the Tualatin River, which was recently blown out.


Jan. 18, 1907, Oregon City Courier p2

OSWEGO.  Eugene Worthington met with a painful accident at the pipe foundry which nearly resulted in the loss of the sight of one of his eyes.


June 4, 1907, Oregonian p6

Oswego Will Not Incorporate

OREGON CITY, Or., June 3.__(Special.)—The people of Oswego who have been anxious to have the town incorporated, have become dissatisfied with the boundaries as established by the County Court and have filed a motion to be allowed to withdraw their petition. This action will end the fight for incorporation that was started two month ago. The Oregon Iron & Steel Company came into court and protested against the incorporation of the town, and the court finally ordered a vote on the question, but cut down the boundaries, taking out a portion of the land of the company. It is everything or nothing, however, with the people, and there will be no effort made at this time to incorporate.


Feb. 7, 1908, Oregon City Enterprise p5


The people of Willamette are again seeing visions of a coming railroad and openly declare that A. S. Patullo, an officer of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company, has stated that it is only a question of time when a railroad will be constructed to Willamette, either from the Portland-Salem line of the Oregon Electric Company, or from some other source. The expectations of a railroad are heightened by a party of surveyors who are now engaged in platting the immense holdings of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company near Willamette, beyond the Tualatin River. The company has about 3000 acres there and the land is being platted into small tracts of 2 1/2, 5 and 10 acres. The property is partially covered with timber at the present time, but is easily cleared and is suitable for fruit and vegetable growing, as well as being adapted to dairying. The soil in and about Willamette is unusually fertile.


O.I.&S. power plant on Oswego Creek.  Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Public Library.

Aug. 20, 1909, Oregon City Courier p1

POWER PLANT FOR OSWEGO — Oregon Iron & Steel Co. Head Big Scheme — Will Furnish Light and Power For Factories and Private Enterprises

A big power plant, capable of furnishing light and power for factories, private enterprises and the towns surrounding Oswego, is being projected by the Oregon Iron & Steel company at Oswego.

It is intended to install the plant at the lower end of Tualatin lake [another name for Sucker Lake], just above Oswego, where the iron and steel company now has a large dam. How large the plant will be or what its horse power capacity has not yet been determined by the company, the plans yet being in a formative stage. Within a month, however, the details of the work will have been decided upon and the installation begun.

“It is yet too soon to say how large the plant will be,” said Alexander S. Patullo, secretary of the company. “We have a storage possibility there in the Tualatin lake, however, which makes a large amount of power available whenever it is needed.

“The company simply desires to be which is certain to come to the vicinity of Oswego. There are many excellent sites for factories there and it is very probable that new institutions will make that place their headquarters. The trend of factory development is in that direction. There is talk of a cement manufactory being built there besides other projects now under contemplation.

Aside from this there is certain to be a great development in the valley about Oswego, providing a market for the power and light which would be manufactured by the plant. It is to meet this demand that the company is preparing to install the power plant.

The Oregon Iron & Steel Company already has several properties at Oswego, besides the foundry being the water works. The new plant will furnish light and power for these properties as well as for commercial use.

The construction of the Southern Pacific bridge across the river at Oswego will give that town transportation facilities which it has lacked for many years, and will make it available as a factory location. Already property in the place and that vicinity is taking on an active tone which has not been noted for many years, and the prospects of great improvement in the near future are very bright. The new power plant is being prepared so that it will be on the ground floor, ready to furnish power and light for prospective investors, and thus aid in the upbuilding of the district.


August 26, 1909, Oregonian p1

Flames in Slashing Near Oswego Spreads Out of Bounds

A fire, started in a slashing on the property of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company yesterday afternoon, burned over between 200 and 300 acres last night and caused a number of residences to be endangered on account of the proximity of the flames.

The fire which was located about a mile and a half northwest of Oswego, gained considerable headway during the evening and not only threatened the residences but started working in the direction of a number of grain fields located less than a half mile away.

Owing to the fact that the timber was very dry on account of lack of rain the residents of the district in the immediate vicinity expressed considerable alarm over the proximity of the flames to their homes and crops.


Oct. 7, 1909, Oregonian p2

OSWEGO WANTS HOME RULE — Petition Asking for Incorporation to be Presented to County.

OREGON CITY, Or., Oct. 6.—(Special)—For the second time the people living in the town of Oswego, between Oregon City and Portland, will make an effort to incorporate, and will file a petition, to which 59 signatures have been attached, with the County Court, requesting consideration at the regular November term. George C. Brownell and Joseph E. Hedges appear for the petitioners.

Several years ago an effort was made to incorporate the town through the medium of proceedings instituted before the Board of County Commissioners, but much objection was interposed by the Oregon Iron & Steel Company, which has heavy property interests at Oswego, and declined to submit to the burden of a city tax without a strenuous protest. The petition was ultimately denied.

There are 400 people living at Oswego. It is said that the objection formerly made to incorporation will not be apparent this time as much of the property of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company, including its plant, has been left out of the proposed boundaries.