Thousands of passengers and an abundance of cargo helped the Swan Island Airport to quickly reach its capacity and weekend crowds overwhelmed the Island when they came to see thrilling performances by Oregon’s earliest wing-walkers and stunt pilots. As the nation’s enthusiasm for aviation expanded into manufacturing, larger and faster airplanes took to the skies.
In 1935, the U.S. Bureau of Air Commerce denied authorization for the most modern aircraft, the DC-3 Mainliner, to operate out of Swan Island. As a result, the Port of Portland announced that it would begin building a “super airport.”
The new Portland-Columbia Airport took four years to build and it had a price tag of nearly three million dollars. The airport was situated on a 700-acre parcel known as the Columbia bottoms near the Columbia River. The Portland-Columbia Airport was one of the largest Roosevelt-era work projects in the nation. It was heralded as one of the nation’s most well-planned airports with plenty of room for expansion.