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May 29, 2011


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I have to ask, where was Vanport. I have seen pictures and stories have been told to me, but what is there now? Is this where the airport is now and east down the river?

Wow, 63 years has passed.

Smith Lake. Close to Denver Ave / Columbia River lowlands. 18,000 were homeless, many black families. Not only was it a disaster but a racial stir in Portland. City officials just left them hanging.

Actually, it's tomorrow, May 30. My wife was born that day.

Vanport is now known as Delta Park...East and West.

AC, Portland International Raceway is located on the grounds that once was the city of Vanport. For more info, check this out: http://www.supercarsunlimited.com/pirbrackets/history/history.htm

And stevedeshazer, you are correct - the flood happened on the 30th.

Your own blog has a good post from 2009 about Vanport, with more detailed information (except that the death toll is incorrect). The link is below:

I remember seeing the "remains" of Vanport for years...empty streets, cement foundations with driveways where houses once stood and a very gray, flat, lifeless look to the whole area, no plants, no trees, nothing...kinda scary and almost like a movie set that no one ever bothered to come back and clean up.

The history is quite interesting and worth reading about, so take a minute or two and check it out...it's quite fascinating!

Jim K

My folks lived in Vanport when I was but a tot. Fortunately, they moved to Columbia Villa shortly before the flood.

Barney Keep lived in Vanport in 1943.

To Craig Addams: Wow! That's pretty neat! (the History Buff strikes again!!) LOVE it!!

My parents live in Vanport and got out just ahead of the rushing waters. They lost most everything they owned. At the time of the flood was father was working at the Portland Airbase. After he an my mother got out he and other guys from the base went back in boats to help with the rescue and salvage.

Basically, it was Marine Drive on the North, Columbia Way on the West, Columbia Blvd. to the South and Union Ave on the east. Simplifying it, Joel is correct. Denver Ave. ran right up the middle. Greg Rollin is also correct. The water level at the old KGW transmitter building, just south of the current expo site was halfway up the third floor of the building. I believe the dyke at the west end along Columbia Way near the Columbia Slough broke and that is where the flood waters went in. At least that is what I remember reading a few years ago. The railroad tracks are on the top of that dyke now.

I was born and raised in Vancouver and 7 yrs old in May of 1948. We lived 30 blocks up from the Columbia and the water was ankle deep 15 blocks from the Columbia.This left a big impression on me all my life to never buy near any kind of river,creek,or lake.
The reason I am commenting is in Feb. of 1996 in the Delta Park area the condos were flooded and on the local news the reporters were rowing through the inside in rowboats. I would think those in charge would no better to build housing of any kind after Vanport but they still do and people still buy.
A couple years ago I was on the Oregon side dining and could not believe there was a large condominium development right near the water's edge on the Vancouver side.Someday they will be sorry but what do I know,I was there. Also the winter of 1947 was really bad.Cars were left in the middle of the streets, the snow was as tall as I was at that time.
It is no wonder the Columbia flooded in May of 1948.
As long as there are greedy developers and builders they will continue to build and sell at water's edge.

A strange question perhaps...does anyone know what was playing on the radion when the KGW transmitter tower was knocked out by a floating house in May 1948 on the day of the flood?

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