Streetcars allowed people to live away from the city and brought them back to earn a living, buy food and clothing and take them to school, to church and to connect them with the rest of the country. The Sellwood Car House was built in 1909 and it housed the streetcars that were used on the Sellwood City Line, as well as cars to and from Gresham, Bull Run, Mt. Scott, Oregon City, Estacada and Molalla.
The Sellwood Car House, which stood until November 2003, was Portland’s largest car barn for the third largest streetcar system in the world. The line from Portland to Oregon City was the first interurban line in the Northwest and it was the first true electric railroad in the world. It was built to steam railroad standards and it carried both passengers and freight.
The Sellwood Line was really unique. It outlasted the other standard gauge lines and no two cars of the same type were used on the line. There were interurban cars and suburban cars, yellow-jackets (red and yellow cars) and pay-as-you-enter cars. Passengers on the Sellwood City Lines never knew what kind of car they would ride on. Some cars had cross seats, some had longitudinal, and cars weren’t always the same colors. Patrons of the other Sellwood Car Divisions that rode on interurbans could usually expect to ride the same type of car.
The Sellwood Line was the only City Line to have been an interurban first (1893-1903), the first line to serve a mausoleum with a spur track for a funeral car and it had the distinction of having been involved in a murder mystery (the Wanas Case of Dec. 31, 1908).