Port of Portland (Oregon)

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Port of Portland
Marine Terminal 6 from Kelly Point Park - Portland, Oregon.jpg
Marine Terminal 6
Country United States
Location Portland, Oregon
Opened 1891
Main imports Automobiles, steel, and limestone
Main exports Wheat, soda ash, potash, and hay
Logo and Motto
Port of Portland logo.jpg
Draft depth 40 feet
Air draft 196 feet, restricted by Astoria–Megler Bridge

The Port of Portland is the port district responsible for overseeing Portland International Airport, general aviation, and marine activities in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area in the United States.

The 16th Oregon Legislative Assembly created the Port of Portland in 1891.[1] The current incarnation was created by the 1970 legislature, combining the original Port with the Portland Commission of Public Docks, a city agency dating from 1910.

The Port of Portland owns four marine terminals, including Oregon’s only deep-draft container port, and three airports. The Port manages five industrial parks around the metropolitan area, and they own and operate the Dredge Oregon to help maintain the navigation channel on the lower Columbia and Willamette rivers.[citation needed]


19th century[edit]

In 1891, the Oregon Legislature created the Port to dredge and maintain a shipping channel from the city of Portland to the Pacific Ocean. Through the years, the Port acquired the Commission of Public Docks,[2] which operated public-use docks in Portland Harbor, and they built Portland's first airport.[citation needed]

20th century[edit]

Portland Harbor in the early 1900s

The Port of Portland's administration was embroiled in questionable business practices in the early 1930s.[3] Port authorities, including James H. Polhemus, the general manager of the port from 1923–1936, were found guilty of mismanagement, both through conflict of interest and cronyism, as well as negligence, sale of equipment at lower than assessed prices, carelessness, and preferential treatment of some private shippers.[3] Much of the blame was because of discounted rates for using the port's dry dock.[3] Companies specifically named as beneficiaries of this graft were McCormick Steamship Company and States Steamship Company.[3] The investigating committee called for the resignation of Polhemus and other staff.[3]

On November 20, 1933, shortly after the commission found Polhemus and his staff guilty, professional auditor Frank Akin was found shot to death.[3] His murder was never solved, leading to many conspiracy theories.[3] In mid-December, the Port commissioners voted to reject the investigating committee brief, meaning Polhemus was exonerated.[3] Polhemus stayed with the Port for another three years before becoming a vice president at Portland General Electric.[3] MacColl summarized the events in 1979, saying this:

21st century[edit]

Executive director Bill Wyatt speaks at the Port of Portland lease signing ceremony for the Portland Air National Guard Base in 2013.

Hanjin, which accounted for 78% of all container traffic to the Port of Portland, stopped serving the Port at Terminal 6 on March 9, 2015.[4] This decision came during a labor dispute between the Port and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The second-largest shipping line, Hapag-Lloyd, ended service on March 26.[5] To replace connections to Idaho, the Port began a barge service carrying pulse exports from Lewiston to Portland in December.[6]


The Port of Portland has been considered a regional government with jurisdiction in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties since 1973.[2]

Nine commissioners regulate the organization; they are appointed by the Governor and approved by the State Senate. Each commissioner serves a four-year term and can be reinstated to the same post indefinitely. One requirement of commissioners is that, of the nine, two must live in each of Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties while the remaining three are free to live where they choose.[7]

Commissioners elect the Port of Portland's executive director who oversees the daily operations of the port.

Commissioners meet monthly to discuss the policies of the Port of Portland.


Marine terminals[edit]

Port of Portland from St. John's Bridge

Port of Portland's marine terminals are located outside the population center with nearby main line rail and interstate highways minimizing congestion for both rail and truck traffic. The Portland Harbor exports the second largest amount of wheat from the United States and the Columbia River system, including Portland, is third largest wheat export gateway in the world.[8] The Port is the fifth largest auto import gateway in the country, and the largest mineral bulk port on the U.S. west coast.

Marine terminals are located along the Willamette River and the Columbia River. Terminals are served by rail (Union Pacific and BNSF railroads), connecting interstates, and river barges. Around one thousand businesses and corporations are said to use the Port's marine facilities.[citation needed]

Over 17 million tons[citation needed] of cargo move through Portland each year. Twelve million tons of this cargo moves through the Port of Portland-owned and operated facilities.

Major exports include grain, soda ash, potash, automobiles, and hay; major imports are automobiles, steel, machinery, mineral bulks and other varied products.

Imports and exports at the Port of Portland total about $15.4 billion USD, annually.[citation needed]

The Port's terminal facilities (T-2, T-4, and T-5 are on the Willamette River; T-6 is on the Columbia River[2]):

Industrial/Business Parks[edit]

The Port of Portland owns several business parks in the Portland metropolitan area:


The Portland International Airport (PDX) is owned and operated by the Port of Portland. It is the 30th busiest airport in the United States. The PDX capture region serves a population of more than 3.5 million people in two states (Oregon and Washington).

The airport offers scheduled nonstop passenger service flights to over 69 domestic destinations and 11 international cities. PDX served nearly 17 million passengers in 2015, breaking the all-time passenger record of 15.9 million in 2014. The airport averages more than 230 scheduled passenger departures daily during the busiest travel seasons, and 17 different domestic and international passenger airlines serve PDX. Portland is also well-served by 10 all-air cargo carriers.

PDX serves the commercial, passenger, transport needs of the Portland Metro area, while Hillsboro Airport, also owned by the Port, serves an integral part of the region's transportation system, providing well-maintained, financially viable general aviation facilities to businesses and residents of Washington County and beyond. The Port also owns Portland-Troutdale Airport which serves as a flight training and recreational airport with an increasing emphasis on business class capability.

The first airport operated by the Port of Portland was Swan Island Municipal Airport in 1927.[citation needed] It owned Portland-Mulino Airport, a general aviation field, from 1988 until 2009, when Portland-Mulino was transferred to the Oregon Department of Aviation.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Baker, Frank C. (1891). "Special Laws". The Laws of Oregon, and the Resolutions and Memorials of the Sixteenth Regular Session of the Legislative Assembly Thereof. Salem, Oregon: State Printer: 791. 
  2. ^ a b c Carl Abbott. "Port of Portland (Oregon)". The Oregon Encyclopedia. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j MacColl, E. Kimbark (1979). The Growth of a City: Power and Politics in Portland, Oregon 1915-1950. Portland, Oregon: The Georgian Press. ISBN 0-9603408-1-5. 
  4. ^ Wilson, Conrad (February 11, 2015). "Oregon Businesses Say Hanjin's Departure Is A Blow". OPB. Retrieved December 10, 2015. 
  5. ^ Wilson, Conrad (April 7, 2015). "Hapag-Lloyd Confirms It's Left The Port Of Portland". OPB. Retrieved December 10, 2015. 
  6. ^ Harbarger, Molly (December 4, 2015). "Port of Portland subsidizes Lewiston-to-Portland container service after shipping lines pull out". The Oregonian. Retrieved December 10, 2015. 
  7. ^ Port of Portland - Commission Information
  8. ^ Port of Portland web site
  9. ^ "SB 5504-A" (PDF). Oregon Legislature. June 5, 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-06-11. Under an agreement with the Port of Portland, the agency has been operating the Mulino Airport with the understanding that the agency would assume ownership when the airport attained financial self-sufficiency. In Policy Package 100, the Subcommittee authorized the agency to assume ownership of the Mulino Airport on July 1, 2009, for $1. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Port of Portland, Oregon at Wikimedia Commons