Date of visit: October 16, 2011
Population: 15,962 (2010 Census)
Troutdale’s downtown was hit by a devastating fire on July 21, 1907. The fire started at the Red Front, an annex of the Troutdale Hotel. The occupants of the annex had been “carousing in the saloons” late into the night according to a 7/22/1907 Oregonian newspaper article. After returning to the Red Front W.J. Smith was so intoxicated that he knocked over a kerosene lamp and a fire began. Smith was apparently too drunk to save himself and was burned to death in the fire.
The fire quickly spread to the main hotel and even though every able-bodied man in Troutdale responded to help fight the fire the only equipment was a small hose cart and a fire hydrant fed from a spring on the hill. The newspaper article said that “this inadequate means of fighting fire was used for all it was worth, supplanted by a bucket brigade, but nothing be done to check the flames until the whole block was destroyed.” Fortunately the buildings on the other side of the street were saved.
Shopkeepers and hotel owners up and down the street could see what was going to happen and a surprising amount of merchandise and furniture was saved. The postmaster was able to save everything except the cabinet and office safe, but he seemed to determine to live up to the famous postal service motto (Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds) and opened the office on time the next morning in temporary quarters at the Masonic Hall, receiving and dispatching mail as usual.