The history of TriMet is steeped in Oregon’s fabled pioneering spirit. Founded 50 years ago from the ashes of the bankrupt Rose City Transit, TriMet has been profoundly influential in shaping the growth and character of the Portland region. Through innovations in policy development, system design and technological advancement, TriMet continues to set benchmarks for the transit industry at home and abroad.

1872-01-01 00:00:00

First Horse Drawn Streetcar

Twenty-one years after Portland's founding, a horse-drawn streetcar line opens along SW 1st Avenue—the Portland Street Railway Company, started by Ben Holladay.

1882-06-01 00:00:00

Horsecar Expansion

The Multnomah Street Railway Company and the Transcontinental Street Railway Company provide competition with horsecar lines extending west and northwestward from downtown.

1888-06-01 00:00:00

First Eastside Horsecar Line

The Willamette Bridge Railway Company builds the first eastside horsecar line across the Morrison Bridge to the separate city of East Portland.

1888-06-01 00:00:00

Steam-Operated Streetcars

Horsecars continue to provide most street railway service, but horses couldn't provide longer suburban service.

1889-06-01 00:00:00

Electric Streetcars

Electric streetcars gradually replace horse-drawn, cable and steam-powered lines.

1890-06-01 00:00:00

First Electrified Streetcar

An era of expansion includes lines on both sides of the Willamette River. The first electrified streetcar, operated by the Willamette Bridge Railway Company, served the Albina area.

1890-06-01 00:00:00

First Cable Cars

The first cable cars, which were imported from San Francisco, ran on Fifth Avenue. They were operated by the Portland Cable Railway Company.

1891-06-01 00:00:00


Large consolidations of financially troubled companies begins. City & Suburban Railway absorbs three smaller companies—Willamette Bridge Railway, Transcontinental Street Railway and Waverly-Woodstock Electric Railway—and their lines to form the largest street railway company west of the Mississippi River. It is now possible to cross from one side of town to the other (approximately 16 miles) on a single fare. The next year, Portland Consolidated Street Railway Company forms, absorbing the remaining three lines—including the Metropolitan Railway and Portland & Vancouver Railway (a steam line).

1893-06-01 00:00:00

First Interurban Electric Railway

A 16-mile interurban electric railway (first in the United States), the East Side Railway Company, and high-voltage transmission line are constructed from Oregon City to Portland—one of the first attempts at long-distance electrical transmission powered by a new hydro-electric plant at Willamette Falls. Other interurban lines follow, connecting Portland to its suburbs and outlying towns.

1896-06-01 00:00:00

The last cable lines are converted to trolley


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