Kelly Butte Civil Defense Center Update

August 31st, 2009

I recently spent some time at the Stanley Parr Archives and Record Center (SPARC), the City of Portland archives out in North Portland, researching my documentary short film about Oregon during the Cold War. I was only able to skim the surface of all the civil defense archival material, but the staff was gracious enough to scan a few photos of the construction of the Kelly Butte command center. B-Love also joined me at SPARC and did some Memorial Coliseum research and found some awesome photos of that sports arena’s construction. Still trying to come up with a title for the project, but I’m leaning toward “Watching the Sea and Sky: Oregon’s Lost Cold War Infrastructure”. It really puts a focus on the documentary, which I’ve decided is an examination of Oregon’s air defense and underwater surveillance efforts from roughly 1955 to 1992.

During my visit to the SPARC, I also learned about another facet of Portland civil defense efforts I was not aware of: air raid sirens called “Wailing Willies”. I guess there were seven of these towers in various neighborhoods throughout Portland, but I don’t know any of the detail like exact locations or how long they were in operation. I’ll follow-up on my next trip to SPARC and hopefully find out more.

1955_15_kelly_butte.jpg

1955_27_kelly-butte.jpg

1956_55_kelly_butte.jpg

1957_00_kelly-butte.jpg

1957_01_kelly-butte.jpg

1957_02_kelly-butte.jpg

Entry Filed under: The Cold War

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. bbrewer  |  September 2nd, 2009 at 2:36 am

    Awesome pictures, thanks so much for posting! Looking forward to the documentary.

  • 2. Adelaide  |  October 25th, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Thanks for the info! I actually went up to Kelly Butte today to check it out. Strange place.

  • 3. BURT  |  August 18th, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    IS THE CIVICL DEFENSE CENTER FOR SALE OR RENT/LEASE?

  • 4. admin  |  August 19th, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    The old CD center is not for sale. It’s part of a public park.

  • 5. Aaron  |  February 10th, 2016 at 4:48 am

    Bizarre, disquieting place. Lots of potential to be beautiful… Probably by 2018 it’ll be a crown jewel like Powell Butte.

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