The Oregon Iron Chronicles is a compilation of newspaper articles published between 1860 and 1930. They document the colorful history of the Oregon iron industry, which opened the first iron mines and built the first iron furnace on the Pacific Coast. The works were located at Oswego, a small town on the west bank of the Willamette River eight miles south of Portland. Before the Oswego Furnace went into operation, the West Coast was dependent on imported iron shipped 17,000 miles around the Horn of South America in a hazardous voyage that took four to five months.
During the seventy years covered by this chronicle, three different companies owned the iron works: the Oregon Iron Company (1865-1877), the Oswego Iron Company (1877-1882), and the Oregon Iron & Steel Company (1882-1929). The company founders and principal shareholders were among Portland’s leading capitalists: William S. Ladd, John and Henry Green, H. C. Leonard, Henry Corbett, Henry Failing, Martin S. Burrell, Simeon G. Reed, and William M. Ladd. Their investments in shipping and railroads, banking and real estate, gas and water systems shaped the future of Portland as the cultural and commercial center of Oregon. Portland’s heritage of cast iron architecture, its link to the transcontinental railroad, and its Bull Run water system are all linked to the Oregon iron industry.
I wish to express my gratitude to the following organizations for making digitized newspapers available online: the University of Oregon’s Digital Newspaper Program, NewsBank’s digitized copies of The Oregonian, the California Digital Newspaper collection, the University of British Columbia Historical Newspaper collection, and the Library of Congress Historic American Newspapers collection. Without them this project would not have been possible. The articles have been transcribed for easier reading, but the original spelling, punctuation, and headlines have been preserved. Before transcription, many articles looked like the example below.