by Justina Quagliata
Not known to many due to the passage of time, there is a redirected creek running under, in some areas mere feet under, JELD-WEN Field. Tanner Creek, a naturally occurring stream that drains the West Hills and empties into the Willamette River, lies just under the stadium though that wasn’t always the case.
The neighborhood now known as Goose Hollow sprung up along the banks of Tanner Creek and used to be named Tanner Creek Gulch in reference to both the creek and Lownsdale Tannery located on what would later be Multnomah Field and present-day JELD-WEN Field.
Goose Hollow became home to Chinese immigrants in the late 1800s who farmed and lived in shanties surrounding their land. The banks of the creek flooded easily and created foundational damage for more permanent buildings.
The unstable land surrounding Tanner Creek made development difficult for the growing city of Portland. The creek was filled in between 1887 and 1894 using dirt and rocks from construction sites on Burnside Street.
Tanner Creek was incorporated into the city’s sewer system and was rerouted from emptying into Couch Lake in the present-day Pearl District to its new destination - the Willamette River.
During and even after construction, the creek still caused problems for the surrounding areas, often flooding Multnomah Field. The city repaired the routing of Tanner Creek, thus allowing the development of the Goose Hollow neighborhood into what the Timbers and their fans know it as today.
Though the creek runs up to 50 feet underground in some areas, it rushes only seven feet below the Timbers Army section in the North End. Its history can also be traced in surrounding areas throughout the neighborhood. Both the Civic Shops plaza on SW Morrison and the Goose Hollow MAX station feature engravings referring to the creek below. Tanner Creek itself can be heard through a manhole at the MAX station.
JELD-WEN Field holds its own mementos of the creek. A plaque set right inside Gate Four, describes where Tanner Creek ran when the field was a baseball stadium and home to the Portland Beavers. The log slab artwork outside the adidas Timbers Team Store uses elements of the story of Tanner Creek to commemorate the history of the stadium. Most subtly, however, the wooden seats in section 118 dip slightly in the middle as a result of the previously sinking foundations and a reminder of the gulch below.