Rankin Airport 1930-1933

Wikipedia tells us that

John Gilbert “Tex” Rankin (January 20, 1894, Texas – February 23, 1947 Klamath Falls) was an aerobatic pilot, barnstormer, air racer, and flight instructor from the 1920s to the 1940s. Born in Texas on January 20, 1894, Rankin began flying in 1913, when airplanes were still considered a new oddity.

If you search for “Tex Rankin” on Google you will find a lot of biographical and aeronautical information, and a long list of accomplishments, including national championships and world records. The man is a legend. Here is a picture of him, next to a plane with identification number 13 and with a black cat that accompanied him on his flights, tempting fate.

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Union Ave and Columbia Blvd in 1916

In 1916 Union Avenue (now Martin Luther King Boulevard) ended at Bryant Street — north of Bryant all the way to the Columbia Slough was the Lewis Love Donation Land Grant, owned by the heirs of Captain Lewis Love. The Vancouver line of the Portland Railway Light & Power Company had a right-of-way over Love land, but there was no paved road of any kind.

Ever since 1894 the good citizens of Piedmont and Woodlawn had asked the city to extend Union Avenue north to the city boundaries at Columbia Slough Road (now Columbia Boulevard). The piece from Prescott to Alberta was done in 1894, and the piece from Alberta to Bryant in 1898. But Lewis Love refused to let the road continue on his land. He died, however, in 1903, and his heirs were more malleable. The piece from Bryant to Columbia, was added between 1916 and 1918. A copy of the report of the city engineer on this last addition can be found at


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In 1908 Henry Ford introduced the Model T and made cars affordable. In the years following that epoch-making event, American took to the road in great numbers, to make trips, both for business and pleasure. Boosters in the up and coming cities on the West Coast soon realized that they needed to provide accommodations for these travelling tourists and business people, because if they could keep them in the city or state for some time and give them positive memories, they might come back and buy a house or start a business. The solution that cities came up with initially were municipal automobile camps, basically campgrounds with amenities, in which people slept in their cars or in tents they brought along. These parks were run by the city, in the same way as regular city parks.

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The Wrong Smith

Fake news has it that the City in 1909 bought land for Peninsula Park from Elizabeth Smith a.k.a. Liverpool Liz, who ran a racetrack and a saloon there. False. Evergreen Park (1899-1900) was leased from W.K. Smith by Harry Busch, who was financed by $ 6,000 from Lizzie Smith. The good citizens of Piedmont, controlled by the crusading teetotaller Edward Quackenbush, prevented Harry Busch from getting a liquor license. Harry Busch went to jail for pistol-whipping Liz, and Evergreen Park went belly up. The land was subsequently bought by the City from W.K. Smith. I am currently writing up the story with the title “Too Many Smiths” or “Elusive Liz”. The attached picture overwhelmingly shows that William K. Smith, a banker, millionaire, and mill owner, was morally incomparable to Liverpool Liz.

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