Last Thursday, my painting buddy and I went to Oaks Park to paint.
Oaks Park is an historic Portland treasure, an old-fashioned amusement park, part of the Portland scene since 1904, when the Oregon Water Power and Navigation company built it along a street car line.
The Park has no entrance or parking fees, and you can set up your materials and wander all around without spending a penny. It’s kind of magical.
The Park has made some landscape changes but it’s still along the river — this was the scene behind us as we painted.
On the other side of the our painting setup was the little train that circles the park:
(That’s painting buddy Susan, way down the way, sussing out the best view. And my painting cart sits to the left, parked, waiting patiently for me to stop being wowed by the amusements.)
Oak Park has all the requisite things:
A ferris wheel:
A roller coaster (with squealing 13-year olds)
A Screaming Eagle
And running children
The park has had only five owners: the Oregon Water Power and Navigation Company, John Cordray who bought it in 1924 when OWPN had to disinvest; Edward Bollinger, a park electrician who purchased it from Mrs. Cordray; Edward’s son, Robert Bollinger, and the Oaks Park Association, a non-profit created by Robert Bollinger in 1984 which received nearly all his assets. The non-profit maintains and operates the Park now.
It’s a sweet little lively space.
In addition to the rides, there’s a Dance Pavilion, where dances and celebrations are held.
And there’s the famous roller skating rink, at the end of The Avenue, open all year round, and famed for its slick and fast floor.
It’s a great place to take photos.
There’s a little historic train, parked, for the children to check out, as well as the red one that toots its way around the park.
The Park picked up gazebos from the Lewis and Clark Exposition of 1904, after it was dismantled. And they added lots of covered tables in the groves of trees for picnickers and groups. The whole Park is incorporated in and around giant oak trees — an aptly named place. The trees give it a kind of innocent air.
Oh yeah, I did a little painting. Mostly, though, I drank in the day’s sensations, listening to the music and the rattle of the roller coaster, the screams of the girls as it swooped, the jingle of the carousel, the tootle of the train, and the cries of crows, watching us as we watched the action.
This will be my last post for a couple of weeks. I’m going for two weeks to eastern Oregon (near Monument, on the North Fork of the John Day river) for a painting retreat. No magical city views there, just a lot of farm animals and some glorious scenery. I think I might get more painting done.