Old Town was born out of a swamp—which probably comes as a surprise to no one—enveloped by the mighty Couch Lake. A now-buried stream once flowed through the floodlands of Goose Hollow. And in Slabtown, the only remnant of Guild's Lake—site of 1905's Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition—is a landlocked bar called Rae's Lakeview Lounge.
And on the eastside of the river, there was Paradise Springs.
Just south of the Belmont Station bottle shop at Southeast 45th Avenue and Washington Street lies a monument to a buried part of Portland's watery past. Paradise Springs was a long-buried stream that once flowed down Mount Tabor all the way to the Willamette.
For more than 20 years, Bob Modesitt walked his Buckman neighborhood delivering packages for the U.S. Postal Service. He'd get to talking on people's front steps and learned about the geology of the central eastside, and the stream that once ran through it.
When Modesitt, now 89, retired, he and his wife, Joyce, focused their energy on a garden Martha Stewart would envy. In one corner, Modesitt decided to commemorate the springs with a stone-and-wood replica of a well to mark the site of Paradise Springs beneath it.
"There are springs all over the west side of Mount Tabor," he says. "When people move into the neighborhood, they wonder why their basements are often wet."
Some of his neighbors, including the nearby Portland Nursery, have tapped into the abundant underground flow rather than paying skyrocketing rates for city water. But Modesitt says his well is purely decorative.
"I've often thought I should have hooked into the spring," Modesitt says. "I would have saved a lot of money, water rates being what they are."