SIA Portland 2022 – Tours & Events

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All 50th Annual Conference registrants must read the SIA Covid Statement and agree to abide by the terms and conditions stated therein in order to participate in the conference.



  • Pre-conference tours**
  • Evening Reception at the Benson Hotel


  • Choose one of three all-day bus tours
  • Dinner on your own
  • Local Pub Crawl and Special Interest Groups Meet-up


  • Full day of research presentations & exhibits
  • Annual Business Meeting & Luncheon
  • SIA Banquet**


  • Post-conference tours**

* Booked separately. Information to follow.
** Additional fees apply

CONFERENCE EVENTS – Included in Registration

Event schedules tentative and subject to change.


6 PM – 6:30 PM New Members Welcome Reception

6:30 PM – 9 PM Thursday’s Opening Reception will be held in the former London Grill space on the Lower Lobby Level at the Benson Hotel. The London Grill was a well-known fine dining restaurant from 1955 until 2011 when it was remodeled as an event space. The remodel included restoring original details to bring back the feel of the Fountain Grill, as the space was called in the earliest days of the hotel.

The opening reception will include hors d’oeuvres, cash bar and an orientation on the history of Portland.

Friday June 10 Tours

Choose one of the following all-day tours (lunch and transportation included)

F1 – Early Industry (8:00 – 4:00) The tour begins at Moore’s Island, an historic industrial enclave below the great falls of the Willamette River at what is now West Linn. In 1873, private enterprise built Willamette Falls Navigation Canal and Locks to bypass the 45’ falls and ease shipping to and from the bustling Willamette Valley. After 1889, with a busy canal and electricity being produced at the falls, the island on the canal became a vigorous industrial and shipping hub. The group will walk the closed locks (soon to undergo renovations and transfer from federal to public/private stewardship), then see ‘green’ power being generated at the 1895 T.W. Sullivan Power Plant and experience the scale of modern paper-making at Willamette Falls Paper Company, the latest in a series of mill operations that began on the canal in 1889.  Five miles downriver at Lake Oswego, the tour will enjoy lunch in Foothills Park, the former site of the town’s second furnace and pipe foundry built in 1888.  Following lunch, the group will visit an 1880 worker’s cottage, now a museum dedicated to the iron industry.  A short walk from the cottage will bring the group to George Rogers Park where the first iron furnace on the Pacific Coast went into operation in 1867.  The massive basalt stack overlooks the river landing where pig iron was loaded on ships bound for Portland and San Francisco.  This is the only surviving charcoal iron furnace west of the Rocky Mountains.

Attendance limited to 20 people. Tour requires significant walking, including steep slopes, uneven surfaces, and stairs. Guests with limited mobility should not sign up for this tour.

F2 – Modern Industry (8:00-5:30) Today, Portland has a number of specialty industries calling it home. This tour will start with a visit to the Swan Island shipyard of Vigor Industrial. Home of one of the largest floating dry-docks in the country, Vigor provides metal fabrication services to many industries, not just ship building. The next stop will be at VintageTEK, the museum for Tektronix equipment. Tektronics were instrumental in the development and refinement of oscilloscopes, while simultaneously founding the ”silicon forest” which later drew companies such as Xerox and Intel. After a bit of a drive and some lunch, the tour will visit the Cascade Steel Rolling Mill, a Schnitzer Steel Company which rolls specialty reinforcing steel from scrap metal using an electric arc furnace. The final stop, on the return journey to Portland, will include a visit to a large production winery, The Great Oregon Wine Co.

Steel toed shoes/boots are encouraged for the Vigor Industrial and Cascade Steel tours.

F4 – Historic Columbia River Highway (8:15-5:00) Spend a day on the Columbia River Highway, now known as the Historic Columbia River Highway, with experts from the Oregon Department of Transportation and partner agencies.  Learn about its construction, from 1913 to 1922, as the first scenic highway in the United States, its decline when the nearby interstate highway opened in the 1950s and 1960s, and its rebirth in the 1990s and 2000s.  The highway became a National Historic Landmark in 2000.  From the beginning, it earned the name “the King of Roads.”  Much of the highway is drivable today.  Abandoned segments are now connected to form the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail for bikes and pedestrians. On the return journey, this tour will stop at Bonneville Dam, constructed in 1937, to see the powerhouse and locks.

Attendance limited to 26 people.

Friday Evening, June 10

7:30 PM – 9:30 PM – Pearl District Pub Crawl and SIG Meet-Ups – In celebration of Portland’s brewing industry, we will be visiting three pubs in the Pearl District of Portland, a five block walk from the hotel. Along the way, we will have tables reserved for Special Interest Groups to meet. Current Special Interest Groups include Iron & Steel and Bridges. Additional Special Interest Groups are encouraged to reach out so that tables can be reserved.

Saturday, June 11

8:30 – 11:30 – MORNING PRESENTATION SESSIONS (Coffee and soft drinks will be available; session topics, presentation titles, and a list of speakers will be posted on the SIA website:


1:45 – 3:15 – SPECIAL PRESENTATION SESSION ON THE FUTURE OF IA Following the Business Meeting, remain in the ballroom for special presentations on modern industries and the archeology of the future.



OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES (Extra fees apply)

Thursday June 9 Tours

T1 – Antique Powerland – $55 (12:30 pm – 5 pm) – The Powerland Heritage Park is a collection of 15 different heritage museums focused on the preservation of antique equipment. Highlights for Industrial Archaeology fans include the Antique Caterpillar Machinery Museum, the Pacific Northwest Logging Museum, and the Western Steam Fiends Association.  For more information, see The tour will include travel to the Park (~1 Hour each way), entry tickets, and a guided tour of one of the museums (TBD).

T2 – Walking Tour of Portland – $10 (2 pm – 4 pm) – This walking tour will be led by the Architectural Heritage Center, a non-profit dedicated to the preservation of historic buildings in the Portland area. The tour will depart from the hotel.

T3 – Timber Old and New – $70 (7:30 am – 4:30 pm) – The state of Oregon leads the U.S. in the production of timber building materials and the industry has been important to the region since before statehood.  Today, the cutting and sawing of massive trees into large format timber exists alongside the fabrication of modern engineered wood products. On this tour we will visit the Hull-Oakes sawmill near Monroe, OR, where they cut large specialty dimensional lumber, including timbers for covered bridges around the country. After lunch at one of those covered bridges, we will visit the Tallwood Design Institute at Oregon State University, where they are testing cutting edge timber products for building modern timber high rise buildings.

The tour will require a long bus ride to the Corvallis area (~2 hours each way). Hull-Oakes is an active sawmill and the tour requires climbing stairs and getting dirty. Attendance is limited to 15 people.

Saturday Evening, June 11

SB – Saturday Banquet Dinner – $85 (6:30 pm – 9:30 pm) The banquet on Saturday will take place at McMenamins Edgefield Resort, a 20-minute drive out towards the Columbia River Gorge. The McMenamin brothers are known for their restorations of interesting historic buildings as hotels and restaurants, and Edgefield is no exception. The property spent seven decades as the county poor farm, before being rescued from demolition by the local historical society and reconstructed into a pub, winery, brewery, distillery, hotel, golf course and spa by McMenamins. Bus transportation is included. The first bus will depart at 6 pm.

Sunday June 12 Tours

S1 – Rail Heritage – $25 (9 am – TBD) This tour will start by visiting Portland’s Union Station, where the recent renovations will be discussed. The group will then take the streetcar to the Oregon Rail Heritage Center for a tour of the shop and locomotives there. Passes for the streetcar will be provided so members of this tour group can head back to the hotel in their own time.

S2 – Bridges of Portland – $65 (10 am – 4 pm) Portland, built as an inland river port city, is home to all three bridge types and all three movable bridge types, among them the longest tied-arch bridge in the US, the oldest operating vertical lift bridge in the world, and a unique double-decker — a collection of 15 railway, highway, and (one) cable-stayed light rail-only bridge built between 1908 and 2015. Designers of the earliest bridges include the late 19th and early 20th century bridge engineering giants David Steinman, Gustav Lindenthal, John Alexander Low Waddell, John Lyle Harrington, and Ralph Modjeski. We will see what we can see in this combination bus/walking tour. Guides: Sharon Wood Wortman and Ed Wortman, co-authors of The Big & Awesome Bridges of Portland &Vancouver and The Portland Bridge Book, with Nathan Hoover, principal at PDX Bridge Tours, assisting. A free copy of The Portland Bridge Book (Urban Adventure Press, 2006) will be provided to all participants.

While in Portland…

If you’re flying across the country (or nearly) to visit Portland, Oregon, we encourage you to extend your stay and see more than we can show you in this brief conference. There’s lots of industrial history scattered across the west, but it might take some driving to get there. Travel Oregon ( provides lots of basic information about where to go and how to get there. In this guide, we will go a bit more in depth on the opportunities to see industrial sites, both old and new, across the state.

Visit Bend – Bend, Oregon is just across the Cascade Range from Portland in central Oregon (~160 miles). While today Bend is known for its outdoor recreation, it was first settled as the center of an agricultural irrigation district in 1900. Not long after that, though, the logging companies arrived, finding the Deschutes River in Bend to be a source of hydropower and the Cascade foothills a ready source of Ponderosa pine. By 1915, two large lumber companies (Shevlin-Hixon and Brooks-Scanlon) had built mills south of Downtown Bend, in an area now known as the Old Mill District. While little intact remains of the mills themselves besides the powerhouse (now an REI), there are many remnants around to be found ( A walk along the Deschutes River Trail is a chance to see some of these remnants along with more modern hydropower facilities.  For more information on this history, the Deschutes Historical Museum ( has a great display on the Forests of Central Oregon.

While in Bend, explore the modern industry that’s brought Bend much renown, brewing. Follow the Bend Ale Trail ( to visit two dozen breweries in this small city, with one for every 4500 people at last count. And don’t worry if you don’t like beer, there are cideries, distilleries and wineries in Bend as well, many of which offer facility tours.

Visit the Oregon Coast – There is lots to see and do on the Pacific Coast of Oregon, but if you’re looking for industrial history, you should head to Astoria and Tillamook. Astoria, Oregon (~100 miles from Portland) is located at the mouth of the Columbia River and is an important port town.  It was established as a fur trading outpost in 1811, becoming the first permanent U.S. settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. Lewis and Clark National Historic Park ( provides demonstrations and displays about this early history, based out of a reconstruction of Fort Clatsop where the Lewis and Clark wintered from 1805 to 1806.

Astoria boomed in the late 1800s as result of salmon canneries, logging, and shipping. The importance of the shipping industry, even today, can be seen in the prominence of the Columbia River Bar Pilots, who aid mariners in navigating the treacherous mouth of the river. The Columbia River Maritime Museum ( is a great option for learning about this history. A walk through downtown Astoria, or a trip on the Astoria Trolley (, will exhibit a mixture of 1920s commercial buildings and, on the riverside, both active and abandoned fish canneries.

In more modern history, the bridges in Astoria are also worth viewing. The Astoria Megler Bridge, completed in 1966, is a 4.2-mile-long structure that replaced the last ferry on US 101 between Mexico and Canada. On most days, container ships can be watched travelling under the 200’ high main span of the bridge on their way upriver to Portland or Longview. Also worth visiting for the bridge hunter are the Old Youngs Bay and Lewis and Clark River Bridges, both bascule type lift spans from the 1920’s (

Tillamook, Oregon (~90 miles from Portland) is about an hour and a half south of Astoria on US101. Today, the area is best known for its dairy farms, dominated by Tillamook Cheese. A visit to the Tillamook Cheese factory offers a fun tour for the whole family along with tasty treats, though avoid summer weekends when the crowds get quite large. For a more historic destination, the Tillamook Air Museum is located inside a WWII era blimp hangar and many artifacts dating to that era. In addition, for the train buff or family, the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad ( offers steam train trips along the coast between Garibaldi and Rockaway Beach.

Further Afield – For those with the time for a longer trip, there are many destinations available in the Pacific Northwest. Here are a couple of suggestions:

Ashland, Jacksonville and the Upper Rogue Valley – South of Portland, nearly at the California border is a cluster of towns with a strong industrial history. Ashland ( was built around a sawmill and flour mill on Ashland Creek and later gained fame with its “health-giving” mineral springs and nationally famous Shakespeare Festival. Just down the road is Jacksonville, Oregon, a National Historic Landmark for its beautifully maintained downtown dating back to the 1850’s gold rush. The entire Rogue Valley is known for its wineries and scenery with easy access to Crater Lake National Park and the Oregon Caves National Monument.

Tri-Cities Washington – Made up of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland Washington, the Tri-Cities area is a cluster of communities located at the juncture of the Yakima, Snake and Columbia Rivers in eastern Washington.  For those interested in history, the area is most well known for the Hanford Site, a decommissioned nuclear production complex that is now being cleaned. Due to the contamination, much of the site is off-limits, but tours are available of the B Reactor as part of the Manhattan Project National Historic Landmark (