Portland's Best Web Historian Is Here to Prove That Portland Has Been Weird for a Long Time

Jeff Felker catalogs Portland's weirdness through the ages in blog form.

In 1941, R.J. Reynolds' nephew opened an aluminum plant in Troutdale for the sole purpose of making foil for cigarette packages. Before the feds moved in with I-5, Southwest Barbur Boulevard was the grandest north-south superhighway in Oregon. And in 1964, Portland was poised to build the world's largest domed arena to lure in an NFL team, major league baseball, and—maybe—the Olympics.

The Delta Dome was scrapped—along with that would-be Portland football team, but the time when it seemed possible is preserved on a blog called deltadome.blogspot.com.

Since 2008, chiropractor Jeff Felker has been quietly pouring pieces of oddball local history into what is now 52 separate blogs—though a few of these are devoted to his restoration of muscle cars from the '70s—bearing witness to the fact that Portland was plenty weird before they made the bumper sticker. Felker has personally tracked the obelisk-like mile markers along Stark Street (starkstreetmarkers.blogspot.com), and borne witness to the majesty of Zim's 12 Mile Store in Gresham (zims12mile.blogspot.com), replaced by a Kia dealership. Chances are you've happened across one of these blogs, but unless you follow a little link bearing Felker's picture you'd never know they're all connected.

Related: This East Portland Butte Was Home to an Underground Homeless Camp

Our favorite, perhaps? Felker tracked down the true identity of those boxes on Southwest 6th Avenue and Yamhill Street that look like little phone booths. They are actually closed-up portals to underground public restrooms, called the Portland Comfort Station (portlandcomfortstation.blogspot.com). They were built in much simpler times, when a completely unsupervised underground restroom bunker downtown seemed like a good idea.

Best of Portland Issue 2016