Call ahead This experience may be open for on-site visitation; however, offerings and/or operating procedures may have changed due to COVID-19. Please verify details before you go and visit the COVID-19 Resources page for more information.
The site which now bears the name Cathedral Park is steeped in history. It is believed to be one of the 14 Lewis and Clark landing sites in the Vancouver-Portland area: William Clark and eight men camped there on April 2, 1806. This spot had been a fishing and camping site for many area Native American tribes. In 1847, the founder of St. Johns, James John, settled on the site and operated a ferry to Linnton across the Willamette River. In 1931, the St. Johns Bridge was built on the site with 400-ft towers and a main span of 1,207 feet. It is the only steel suspension bridge in Portland and is designated as an official historical landmark.
In the early 1970s, Howard Galbraith, the `honorary mayor` of unincorporated St. Johns, got tired of the junkyard state of the area under the eastern end of the bridge. He organized a drive that eventually raised $7.5 million to build a park. After eight years of community fundraising, combined with state, county and city funding, the park was dedicated at a community celebration on May 3, 1980. It got its name from a photo of the St. Johns Bridge by Al Monner that appeared on the front page of the Oregon Journal in 1968. Reference was made to its beautiful cathedral-like arches and the park found its name.