Exhibits

Join us for the opening reception for these exhibits on Thursday, November 21, 5-7pm!

*Galleries are closed except by appointment through October 31.

After Promontory
150 Years of Transcontinental Railroading

Book cover for After Promontory featuring Cape Horn Near Celilo by Carleton Watkins, 1867, Oregon Historical Society ORHI65695.

ON MAY 10, 1869, TWO RAILROADS—built with haste, hope, and aspiration—joined in a lonely desert of northern Utah, at a place called Promontory. On that day, dignitaries from both companies—the Central Pacific, which had built from California, and the Union Pacific, which had built from the east—gave speeches and installed ceremonial last spikes.

To mark the 150th anniversary of the beginning of this era, the Center for Railroad Photography & Art (Madison, WI) launched a special project, After Promontory: 150 Years of Transcontinental Railroading. This initiative includes a traveling exhibition that examines the significance and lasting impact of the transcon­tinental railroads on the American West. The AHC is currently the only venue in Oregon where the exhibit will be shown.
After Promontory considers the events at Promontory to be the start of a larger phenomenon, an entire era of transcontinental railroad construction that stretched for nearly fifty years. At its core is the assertion that, collectively, the transcontinental railroads profoundly reshaped the human geography of the West, giving birth to the region we recognize today.

Opens November 1

A Changing Landscape and the Forgotten City of East Portland

Portland Cigar Box Manufacturing Co. (c.1900), Norm Gholston Collection

What we think of today as Portland covers a broad swath of land on both sides of the Willamette River. In the late 19th century, that same area contained several mostly independent communities, including Albina, St. Johns, Sellwood—and East Portland, a small city on the eastern shore of the river roughly bounded by Division Street to the south, 12th Avenue to the east, and Sullivan’s Gulch to the north. While people had lived in this area for far longer than recorded history, East Portland only existed as an official city for two decades before merging with Portland and Albina in 1891. This original AHC exhibition on the historic city of East Portland focuses on the period from the 1840s to the 1910s and explores the people who lived there, the impact of the arrival of the railroad and industry, and the changing landscape that in the course of only a few decades turned a flood zone into a thriving city.

Exhibit presented with support from The Jackson Foundation.

See our past exhibits.