Edward Derby, one of Station L’s rowers created this great documentary called Rowers Don’t Wear Life Jackets.
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Find the video on YouTube here.
Rowing has a long history in Portland, and competitive rowing was a popular local spectator sport in the 19th century. For several decades beginning in the 1930's there were no active rowing clubs in Portland, and Willamette River was deemed by many as too dirty for water sports. Station L Rowing Club was founded in 1972 by a group of former college rowers who were surprised to find a great setting for rowing on the newly cleaned up Willamette, but very few active rowers. At the club's 2008 gala and auction, a plaque was unveiled honoring the 28 founding members of Station L Rowing Club. The original boathouse was built on a used wood chip barge donated by Shaver Transportation. In early 1973, it was moored adjacent to Portland General Electric's Station L generating plant, the current home of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry [OMSI]. The moorage site is now occupied by the submarine USS Blueback, which is open for tours. In 1975, the boathouse structure and its contents burned in a fire. The boathouse was rebuilt and additional boats obtained. Into the 1980's, the boathouse operated as a cooperative between Lewis and Clark College, Reed College and Station L Rowing Club. Station L emphasized teaching rowing to the public and hundreds of Portlanders learned to row at the club. OMSI's acquisition of the PGE site in 1986 necessitated a move for Station L. Now estranged from the colleges, Station L moved the barge/boathouse to a moorage site near the Fremont Bridge at the beginning of 1987. New equipment was added and the club grew quickly. Competitive Station L crews became a regular sight at Northwest regattas. Lewis and Clark College Crew returned to the boathouse as a partner of Station L Rowing Club in 1989 in a deal brokered by then LC head coach Charlie Brown. A pump failure led to a temporary sinking of the barge soon after, which was raised using high capacity pumps. Under the leadership of Station L President Ian Townshend, the club began a search for a permanent home, as the Fremont location lacked permits and safe access. A home was found just 300 meters upstream, and Station L moved its barge again in 1994 to the Westar Electric site. Club membership grew to over 100, class offerings proliferated and the boathouse reached capacity with 5 8+'s, 6 4+'s and numerous small boats. In February 1996, a significant flood on the Willamette threatened Station L. The boathouse was saved by members who stayed aboard the barge nearly 24 hours a day for 3 days. However the flood left silt which settled in the moorage area around the barge. Extreme low water in October 1997 caused the barge to tip and fill with water, ending its 24 year history as the base for Station L's operations. Club boats were split between boathouses at Riverplace Marina and Oaks Park starting in 1998. In December 2004, Station L moved to the new Portland Boathouse on the eastbank of the Willamette River near the Hawthorne Bridge. The new boathouse is only about 500 meters north of the original 1973 Station L site.
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