tv Port of Portland CSPAN July 2, 2017 11:20am-11:30am EDT
and we hope you'll keep an eye on our website and our facebook to figure out what we are doing in the future. i would like to thank all of our historians to do day -- you did a -- who did a superb job. [applause] >> you are watching american history tv, 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. c-span3s on twitter, at for information on our schedule to keep up with the latest history news. c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television providers and
is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. the columbia river played an integral role in the development of portland along with the will limit. -- along the will limit -- will limit -- come with us to the port of portland as we learn more about one of the cities most important industries. >> i think the importance of columbia and willamatte rivers cannot be underestimated. -- overestimated in terms of its impact. it is the reason why portland was founded originally and it has continued to be the lifeblood of the community, from transportation and now recreational perspective. the reason this spot was chosen as a port was because there was
sheltered from the pacific ocean. about a hundred miles inland. there is a natural harbor in portland, the downtown area. the water is naturally deep. there was a population center here, which made it a natural port as well, and then all the timber, the fur, and agricultural products that were grown in the area, all of that combined made portland what it is today. the first signs of european exploration and settlement came in the late 1700s. captain robert gray was the first explorer to find the mouth of the columbia river. he sailed into the mouth and discovered this huge, natural waterway. not long after that, there was the overland exploration by
lewis and clark. they came out to the west, in part, one of the most important reasons they came on the expedition, was to find the northwest passage. they wanted to find a waterway to connect the eastern parts of the united states with the pacific ocean, opening up access to trade and transportation with asia. i think a lot of people really do not understand or remember that that was one of the primary reasons why lewis and clark came west in the early 1800s. the port was officially formed in 1891 by an act passed by the state legislature. its primary purpose initially was to create and maintain a 25 foot channel. prior to that, there were parts of the channel that were only
around 15 feet to 17 feet deep. as ships got larger and more freight was being brought in and taken out of the portland area, the channel depth was inadequate. at the time, there is nobody responsible for creating and maintaining the channel, so the port was formed to maintain the 25 foot channel from the portland harbor, where we are standing, to the pacific ocean. there was a partnership with army corps of engineers that was formed early on, and that partnership continues today. the port of portland is largely an export oriented port, although we have imports. you might be able to see in the distance, an auto ship, and they are offloading out toyota's coming from japan. just this side of that terminal is a facility that exports soda
ash, and ironically, it is a major commodity used in the manufacture of glass, many of it auto glass, so these companies come in with windows made from soda ash that is being exported on the other side of the terminal. when those cars are old and not working anymore, they go right over here to a steel shredding facility, where it is shredded, put on vessels, and sent back to japan or china for remounting -- -- re-melting or remanufacturing. grain is a major export, wheat, soybeans, corn, a lot of that exported. some of it coming down the columbia five large. -- columbia by barge. much of it for writing by train. we have a tremendous rail infrastructure here in portland
that has been developed, largely because of port operations. i should also say canadian ash is a major export. they have a huge terminal, where is located the largest wood structure west of the mississippi river. and further around on the columbia terminal six, we have autos on each end of the terminal. honda upstream, hyundai from korea downstream, and we also are now exporting for automobiles, made in the center of the country, railed to portland, customized here on our terminal for the chinese buyers. if they went a sunroof or radio, that is installed here, and dr. -- and off they go to china. standingck we are there is a channel that is 40
, feet deep. it needs to be dredged regularly. in the columbia, it is 43 feet. we own a pipeline dredge. the contract with the u.s. army corps of engineers, a federal agency in charge of maintaining navigation channels to the united states, and without that, we would have no maritime commerce. it isn't something most people see or experience or know much about, but it is incredibly vital. rivers like the mississippi and the columbia river could not function without dredging. that is infrastructure. you are building a navigation channel. we are 107 miles from the pacific ocean. without that, we would be in big trouble. rail infrastructure is incredibly important. so many of the commodities we are exporting here could not arrive without rail infrastructure.
railroads themselves make billions of dollars of investments, and they are continuing to do that. there are investments that need to be made it railroad related infrastructure, that are not as much a benefit to the railroads as they are two other forms or modes of transportation, who are presently impeded by rail operations, so overpasses and under crossings and all kinds of related infrastructure, particularly in complex urban areas like this, where the government itself has a real interest in helping the balance of commerce occur, without being impeded by our rail operations. >> think if lewis and clark were here today, i think there would be some surprises. they probably cannot imagine the size of these ships and some of the facilities that have been
built along the waterfront. in other ways, they would not be surprised. i think they knew back during their expedition about how , important waterways are for the development of a country, and economy, and in part, that is why they were here. to go back and report to president jefferson about the opportunities for trade and transportation in this part of the world. i think they would be proud that some of their findings have turned out to be true. our cities tour's staff recently traveled to portland, oregon, to learn about its rich history. learn more about portland and other stops on our tour at www.c-span.org/citiestour. you are watching american history tv, all weekend every , weekend on c-span3. >> on "lectures in history,"