Early settlers claimed the land that became Portland in 1843 and by 1849 the town had grown enough to have a Post Office. New settlers sailed from California up the coast to the Columbia River and then down the Willamette River for a short way to get to Portland, or they braved the elements and travelled overland by wagon train.
Railroad History in Oregon began when Ben Holliday started building the Oregon & California Railroad in 1869. He made it to McMinnvile in 1872 and ran out of money. Henry Villard, who represented German bondholders took control of the line. It took 8 years for construction to resume. On May 4, 1884 Villard got as far as Ashland before the line was sold to the Southern Pacific Railroad. Service from Portland to California finally opened in 1887.
Rail service from Portland to the east opened in 1883 when the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company, which went east of Portland along the Columbia River, and connected with the Northern Pacific Railroad at Wallula Junction, which is south of Tri-Cities, Washington.
A second transcontenental railroad opened in 1884 when the OR&N connected with the Oregon Short Line and the Union Pacific at Huntington, Oregon.
Railroads grew in popularity and eventually they became the preferred method of travel, in the days before airplanes and busses. Northern Pacific, Union Pacific, Great Northern and Southern Pacific all served Portland with passenger and freight service.