I’m working on a chapter for a book I’m writing; the chapter is on Portland, Oregon’s bygone White House Road. The chapter has required extensive research about the Riverside Driving Association which for many years advocated for and maintained the White House Road for pleasure driving and “showing the mettle of fast trotters.”
In the course of my research, I found a number of lithographs from The West Shore, an early Portland magazine. As a pony enthusiast, my favorite is one showing a pony front and center pulling a cart amidst bigger horses and vehicles, promenading down the White House Road in 1890.
In 1904 the driving association was feeling victorious about getting the road widened to make it safe for simultaneous speeding and pleasure driving. “The fight that the Riverside Driving Association has made to have the road widened has not been merely for the benefit of the club members, but it was made for the benefit of the city and every lover of a driving horse, whether it be owned privately or hired from a livery.” (1) Of course, the widening benefited more than just the lover of the driving horse.
Not long after, the club argued before city council about automobile speed limits. “The members of the Riverside Driving Association are hot on the trail of the automobiilsts who on account of their reckless driving on the White House road have made that driveway too dangerous to drive horses on at night.” (2)
As we will have guessed, the driving association’s battle was fruitless. Automobilists took over the road, and the association’s members turned their energies to race meets on tracks and participation in Portland’s Rose Festival Parade.
I grew up in Portland, the City of Roses, and was always aware of the Rose Parade. I had never pondered what the parade was like, though, before internal combustion engines powered the floats. Again as a pony enthusiast I was thrilled to find the photograph here of a pony and cart decorated with flowers for the parade. Ponies and carts also merited their own class in an associated driving show.
One of the joys of doing research for my book is discovering things that I hadn’t previously known or seen. And when those newly discovered things have to do with ponies, the joy is even greater!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2017
- “To Hold Harness Races,” The Morning Oregonian, 4/20/1904, p. 8.
- “Speed of Autos to be checked,” The Morning Oregonian, 5/28/1904, p. 9
Both citations courtesy the University of Oregon Historic Newspapers collection.
There are many stories about ponies and what they can do in the book The Partnered Pony: What’s Possible, Practical, and Powerful with Small Equines, available internationally by clicking here or on the picture.