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Portland Water Bureau

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Powell Butte History

A Summary of the Portland Water Bureau's History at Powell Butte


Bureau article on Powell Butte, The Bull Run Review 1980

Photos from Powell Butte 1 construction

Anderegg Family History at Powell Butte

The Anderegg family operated a ranch/farm on Powell Butte for many years.

The extinct cinder cone that we know as Powell Butte has an interesting agricultural history that precedes its public uses as a nature park and water-reservoir site. The Anderegg family figures prominently in that history.

In 1908, Henry and Anna Anderegg - emigrants from Switzerland - along with Henry’s brother-in-law, Henry Naegeli, began leasing land from the City of Portland on what was then called Camp Butte. The Camp family had operated an orchard and cattle ranch on the butte since 1880.

According to Lillian Adams, youngest of Henry and Anna’s four children, a City Commissioner named John Mann wanted to ensure that the butte was “taken care of,” and felt that a hard-working ranching family would do just that.

For many years the Anderegg family pastured 600 to 800 dairy cows and a number of Percheron horses on the property. Several barns and a shed surrounded the family home. The Anderegg family created and ran Mountain View Dairy; the name was later changed to Meadowland Dairy. The family was also very involved in the community and often offered tours for area schools. The original homestead on the butte was a gathering place for the local Swiss community to get together to dance, sing and yodel. The Andereggs loved living on the butte, not only for the beautiful open spaces that reminded them of home, but also for the spectacular view of the many snow-covered mountains.

For more than a century, what we now know as Powell Butte had other uses, one of which was as a cattle ranch.In 1924, the farming operation was moved to the base of the butte to property on SE Powell Blvd. between SE 157th and SE 174th avenues. The City allowed the Andereggs to continue to pasture cattle and horses on the butte to preserve the open meadows. The butte’s name was changed to Powell Butte in the late 1960s, but many locals just called it Anderegg Hill.

Lillian Adams was born on Powell Butte in 1924, although her family moved off the butte into an 1892 Victorian farmhouse on Powell Blvd. when she was six months old. Everybody worked hard in those days. Lillian’s older brothers, Walter and Tracy, and her sister Lena would each milk 20 cows before heading off to school in the mornings. The milking parlor was built in 1961 and with Lillian’s help, her brother Walter made sure that every child that came to the dairy got to try to milk a cow. Each child also received ice cream and chocolate milk to remember their visit. Anna, Lillian and Lena would feed 28 dairy workers around the kitchen table three times a day.

In 1948, Lillian married Wayne Adams, who had worked at the dairy as a young boy. He continued to farm the property until 1989.

The Anderegg family is pictured riding horses on what we now know as Powell Butte.Today, the dairy is no longer in existence. In the early 1970s the homestead was divided between the four children. Lillian wanted the family home and some surrounding acreage that she eventually developed. After the death of her husband in 1989, Lillian developed Meadowcrest Farm Estates. The family home is filled with heirlooms and photos of cows and the dairy operation. It also serves as Lillian’s office, as well as a meeting place for family and park tenants.

Lillian, like her parents, has a love of wildlife, forests and open spaces. She has attended several meeting of the Project Advisory Committee, created by the Portland Water Bureau to provide input on future development of the park and trails. Her wish is that Powell Butte Nature Park will remain a wildlife refuge as it was originally conceived, and that it continues to be a place for people to enjoy for years to come.