Henry’s 1910 Letter from Europe

August 1, 2017

Henry’s handwritten letter to Georgiana and a photo of Henry in the Netherlands later on the same trip.

Henry Pittock was an avid traveler, visiting regional destinations like San Francisco and more exotic ones like Hawaii and Mexico. In 1910, Henry traveled to Europe, stopping in Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and England. Throughout his trip, Henry wrote his wife, Georgiana, vivid letters about his travels. This one from August 24, 1910, describes his visit to Switzerland:

Regina Hotel Jungfraublick

August 24, 1910

Dear Wife,

When I closed my letter at Lucerne John was hurrying me to a Sunday excursion on the Lake. We went on board one of the many pretty and swift excursion boats at 9 o’clock and were soon under way. The peaks rise up on every side of the lake, some sharp and high, and some partially covered with snow. On Rigi we could see a hotel and there is a railway to it, but for want of time we shall not go to it. Everywhere where the hills are not too steep there are cottages and hotels. The lower hills are wooded—mostly fir—while the mountains are rocky and bare. Almost two thirds the way we stopped for lunch, and then took carriage to see the roadway cut under arching rock and through tunnels.

William Tell’s Chapel circa 1890-1900. Photo courtesy of the United States Library of Congress.

On the way passed William Tell’s Chapel and the scene of the well-known apple story and his troubles with Gessler. At Fluelen—the end of the Lake (28 miles) we again took the boat for the return trip. Immediately on our return we went to see the Lion of Lucerne. This is the life size figure of a lion carved in the face of a cliff in the center of the city to commemorate the overthrow of the Swiss Republic by Napoleon and represents a lion wounded to death defending the coat of arms—a shield bearing a square cross. It is a fine piece of carving. Below is a clear pond stocked with gold and other fish and a small park surrounds it. I forgot to mention that in coming down the lake we passed a natural stone column rising from the water eighty feet on which was a long inscription by Schiller to the memory of William Tell in gilt. The boat went by so fast I did not have time to read it.

Lion of Lucerne circa 1890-1900. Photo courtesy of the United States Library of Congress.

Sunday night it stormed hard, and our trip to the glacier which is the source of the Rhone was not a pleasant one on Monday. Showers fell every little while, and the mountains were hidden by the clouds. Our route was by train almost to the mouth of St Gotthard tunnel, which you know penetrates the Alps to Italy. We left it at Goeschan [sic Goschenen], but in that distance had made two loops entirely under ground in the solid rock. From Goschan [sic Goschenen] we took a carriage and at night stopped at one of the many wayside hotels called F___(?). Notwithstanding the showers and clouds it was surprising to see how many sight-seers were plodding along on foot—men, women and children—some in raincoats, some with umbrellas, and many without either, but all seemed to enjoy it. Early on Tuesday morning we came to the glacier—close to the road it is a fine one, but insignificant when compared with Muir. It was the first one John had ever seen, so we spent some time there. He went over it about a mile, while I picked edelweiss and flowers near the edge. In my light shoes I could not continue far on the ice. The clouds now cleared away and we had a pleasant drive down the glacial stream and over the next mountain.

Historic photo of Sigmund-Thun-Gorge. Photo courtesy of Kaprun Museum.

We lunched at Handeck Falls, where the river Aare makes a tremendous plunge into a narrow and deep gorge and seemed to disappear. Following down the rather pretty valley our driver stopped before a curiosity shop in a garden, on the door of which was a poster “Entree 1 fr.” We asked an explanation, and was [sic] told half in English and French, that our driver wanted us to go through a gorge while he drove over the mountain. Well, it was worth the frank [sic] for we walked for a mile through a fissure in the mountain sometimes twenty feet wide and sometimes less than half that, and except in some short tunnels we did not put our feet on ground. A board walk about three feet wide was built the whole and bolted into the stone walls and under this the river swept in a torrent. The walls must be 2000 feet high. At the sortie was a shop containing some of the finest wood carving I have ever seen. Two companion pieces—mountaineers—took my fancy and should have purchased if my purse was not so light. They were 500 francs.

Jungfrau and Jungfraublick Hotel circa 1890-1900. Photo courtesy of the United States Library of Congress.

Our carriage having come we were soon at M___(?) where at 7pm. we took a train for Interlaken. The train however did not take us far but transferred us to a boat on Brienz Lake. It was now dark, but we were told this lake was connected with Thun Lake by the river Aare, and at the end of this lake was the town of Interlaken (10 miles) where we stopped for the night at the Hotel Regina. This morning we took the train for Jungfrau and though the distance is not great (we could see the mountain from the hotel) it took us a long time to reach it, the cog wheel engines being so slow. We had been told we could go to the summit by train and elevator, but found the work not finished. The train took us up almost 11000 feet to Eismeer Station. A great distance is in a tunnel cut in solid rock, and at different places lateral tunnels are cut so that you can look out. At the last station a large room is cut out for an eating house. All is lighted by electricity. I have mailed you a printed description, so shall not say more now. To-morrow we go back to Lucerne, and at once take train for Cologne. Our aim is to go by Rotterdam and Amsterdam and take steamer for London to reach there by Sept 1st. It may be that John will be obligated to go to Brussels again but hopes not. I have requested Mr. Geernicks to forward my mail to Amsterdam, and hope to get papers covering dates giving particulars of Mr. Scotts [sic] death. I received at Lucerne all the dates to Aug 5.



Pittock Mansion seeks Part-Time Visitor Services Representative

July 14, 2017

POSITION: Part-Time Visitor Services Representative
REPORTS TO: Associate Director
COMPENSATION: $13.80 per hour

Pittock Mansion is a house of historical significance and visual magnificence, offering a uniquely personal opportunity to peek into the past. Attracting over 100,000 visitors in the past year, Pittock Mansion is one of the top destinations in Oregon, and the perfect place to experience the story of Portland. We are seeking a Part-Time Visitor Services Representative to join our dynamic frontline team. If you enjoy working with the public and want to gain professional experience at a premier historic house museum, then we are interested in meeting you.


  • Providing professional-level customer service to visitors, members, volunteers, and staff
  • Dedication to creating a positive and educational experience for visitors in line with the Mansion’s mission
  • Accurate processing of admissions, memberships, and store sales
  • Process reservations for tours and evening events in addition to daily tracking of tour schedule
  • Perform all opening and closing duties as assigned, including securing all buildings and deactivating and activating alarms
  • Light cleaning and maintenance of both museum and public areas
  • Enforce Mansion policies and respond to visitors’ needs (e.g., operate the elevator)
  • Carry out other duties as assigned


  • High level of customer service and ability to interact with public, staff, and volunteers as a team member
  • Professional manner and appearance
  • Strong communication skills and attention to detail
  • Cash handling experience, preferably in a fast-paced environment
  • Ability to work weekends and occasional evenings
  • Dependable transportation
  • Ability to lift 30 lbs
  • Familiarity and understanding of Point of Sale systems and Microsoft Office programs especially Outlook and Excel

Qualified candidate must complete background check prior to offer of employment.

Please submit cover letter and résumé to jobs@pittockmansion.org. No phone calls, please.

Free Shuttle from W Burnside & NW Barnes Bus Stop

July 11, 2017

July 21 – Labor Day, take the FREE shuttle from the Trimet #20 bus* stop at W Burnside and NW Barnes (stop ID #687) to Pittock Mansion!

Shuttle pick-up and drop off is located at the gravel turnout at W Burnside and NW Barnes.

Shuttle runs every 30 minutes from 10am -5pm and is provided by a 12-passenger van marked with a sign identifying it as the shuttle to Pittock Mansion.

*Note: Some #20 buses end service before Pittock Mansion’s stop. Be sure the bus’s electronic sign says “to Beaverton TC” or ask the driver.

Please note shuttle vans are not wheelchair accessible. (TriMet offers some door-to-door neighborhood shuttle service through their Ride Connection program. Find out more at http://trimet.org/access/index.htm) Shuttle vans may have extra cargo space for strollers, but do not have children’s seats for transportation.

Shuttle is provided thanks to a partnership with America’s HUB World Tours.

hub logo

A Tale of Two Bridges: The History of Portland’s Steel Bridges

July 3, 2017

Portland’s first Steel Bridge circa 1890.
Photo courtesy of City of Portland Archives.

Did you know the Steel Bridge we know today is actually a replacement of the original?

Built in 1888, the original Steel Bridge was Portland’s second bridge crossing the Willamette River–the first being the Morrison Bridge, constructed in 1887. It was a double-decked swing span bridge, which let boats pass by pivoting the center span. The bridge was made with steel instead of wrought iron or wood, which was unusual at the time and inspired its name. The bottom deck was Portland’s first railroad crossing of the Willamette. Prior to the bridge, passengers had to exit their train, cross the river on a ferry, and reboard another train. The top deck accommodated streetcars, pedestrians, wagons, and later, automobiles.

Steel Bridge swung open to let a boat pass circa 1908.
Photo courtesy of City of Portland Archives.

The Steel Bridge was a vital crossing for the growing city of Portland, but heavy boat traffic required the bridge to open on a near-constant basis. The bridge’s clearance was so low that even small boats needed the bridge to open! The swing mechanism operated slowly, further disrupting traffic. Soon other problems came to light. The bridge could not accommodate either Portland’s growing traffic or heavier modern trains. This triggered construction of a new, improved bridge.

1913 photo of Portland’s new Steel Bridge.
Photo courtesy of City of Portland Archives.

In July 1912, just 24 years after the first Steel Bridge was completed, the current Steel Bridge opened. It is a double-deck, vertical lift span bridge, which lets boats pass by raising the center section. Higher clearance and a bottom railroad deck that can be raised independently of the top deck means small boats can pass without interfering with traffic. The vertical lift mechanism also operates faster than the previous swing span style. The new bridge kept the “Steel Bridge” name, and the old Steel Bridge was dismantled.

Henry Pittock (at center) celebrates with the crowd at the opening of the new Steel Bridge in July 1912.

Today, over 100 years later, the Steel Bridge is still a vital connector of Portland’s east and west sides, providing passage to thousands of cars, buses, MAX light rail, Amtrak trains, freight trains, pedestrians , and cyclists each day!

Water Testing Results at Pittock Mansion

May 25, 2017

Dear Pittock Mansion friends,

Your safety is our top priority. Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) is continuing testing for lead in drinking water at its facilities citywide.

Pittock Mansion recently had drinking water tested for lead and we wanted to confirm that no test results show elevated lead levels. 

On April 24, 2017, water samples from Pittock Mansion sinks and drinking fountains were collected. The samples were analyzed at the Portland Water Bureau Laboratory. PP&R received results on May 4; results are posted here. All water tested below the 20 parts per billion (ppb) threshold.

Consistent with guidance from the Portland Water Bureau and the Environmental Protection Agency, samples were taken from fixtures commonly used for drinking or cooking.

If you have any questions about the water test results, please contact Mark.Ross@portlandoregon.gov or call Mark at 503-823-5300.

To stay informed about water testing for lead at all PP&R and City of Portland facilities, please see this website: www.portlandoregon.gov/LeadInfo.

To learn more about the risk of lead exposure and simple steps you can take to reduce your family’s exposure to lead, visit www.leadline.org or 503-988-4000.

Thank you,




Marta Bones
Executive Director, Pittock Mansion
A Portland Parks & Recreation partner


Labor Day – Dec.* 10am – 4pm Daily
*Thanksgiving Day CLOSED
*Christmas Day CLOSED
January CLOSED
Feb. – May 10am – 4pm Daily
Jun. – Labor Day 10am – 5pm Daily

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