It’s Snowing on Deadman’s Hill

Whenever it snows, Alamedans of a certain age and desire for adventure turn to Deadman’s Hill at the top of Stuart Drive for some enjoyable downhill adventure. It’s also a reasonable time for us to remind ourselves of the dead man for whom our hill is anonymously named.

6-6-1917 Fred Jacobs PhotoFred Jacobs. The dead man behind Deadman’s Hill. From The Oregonian, June 6, 1917.

He was Fred Jacobs and his tragic death at the foot of the hill on a sunny June morning in 1917 sent shock waves through Portland’s social and real estate communities, as well as the Alameda neighborhood.

You can read our full story behind Deadman’s Hill on this earlier AH Blog post.

While you’re at it, you might check out a post we did on historic snowfall a few years back.

Stay safe out there!

2 responses

  1. Hi Doug, It is nice to see new postings on your website. Today’s post brought back fond memories of sledding on 32nd Pl from Fremont past Klickitat. I attached a collage of pictures from the 2008 snowstorm. It shows the snow accumulation at our house starting on December 14th and ending on December 22nd.

    Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. -John

  2. Hi Doug — Happy Holidays. (If you’d like, I can post this, or a truncated version, to Comments…?? less the pictures). Please note: nothing is embellished or exaggerated — this is all real, and vivid memories.

    When I was a kid (’60’s) — we went to 32nd Place hill. The city used to quickly block that off many years — from Fremont to Knott. It drew a huge crowd — much bigger than Deadman’s did at the time. That top 20 ft. of 32nd place is almost vertical. Woo-hoo!

    Problem – all the homeowners got their yards trampled and ripped up. I don’t remember any of them ever complaining. They just took it.

    I remember (first hand) huge tractor tire inner tubes; way overloaded with kids (5 – 6- 7 or more kids on one, with more kids trying to jump on as it descended out of control — take the place of the kids who were flying off!).

    Because the inner tubes couldn’t be steered, they would quickly veer over the curb like a big blob — and onto the parking strip, then the sidewalk, then the homes’ front lawns and just go tearing up everything — mowing down screaming panicked kids marching back up the hill — flying off of terraced properties onto the next. Total mayhem.

    Shrubs, Rose Bushes, yard art? Bye-Bye. School kids flying thru the air, arms and legs flailing every direction as they landed on the next property down. We loved it!! Maybe the inner tube would hit a house or garage or car to finally stop. Rarely made it to the bottom (how could it?).

    I only remember one serious injury. My classmate, now Hollywood modern architect, John Perkins (who lived just 2 blocks away on 31st) had to be hospitalized for several days from a major crash (into a parked car) and major head injury. Our whole 7th grade class was in mourning, and so happy when he was back with us. (All the kings horses and all the kings men, did put Perkins head together again.)

    I broke my ankle there, 1967 when a sled with a metal front smacked me after I rolled my sled at Kliciktat and was sitting in the middle of the street. Before I could collect myself — Bammm! It spun me around on my butt like a spinning top so fast the centrifugal force made my tight fitting stocking hat fly off my head. I did at least 3 or 4 revolutions in about one second flat. I had to wear a cast for several weeks, and crutches. My badge of accomplishment or officialdom, when back at school.

    I guess that should be considered as another ‘serious’ accident… – even though I walked (hobbled) home; up the long steep hill and then climbed Alameda stairs after that; now using my short sled vertically like a cane for support on that broken ankle. I didn’t go to the doc until the next day for x-rays. But you better believe I was back the next snowy season for more, more, more.

    A good run (on a regular sled with waxed runners on good icy base) — some kids would whiz past Klickitat, past Siskiyou, past Stanton, and almost make it to Knott! All from gravity and daring. A real-life lesson in physics they weren’t teaching us in the classroom! (Personally, I never made it past Siskiyou.)

    Sometimes we’d stack ourselves 2, 3, and 4 kids high, laying on one sled – usually toppled quickly (another physics lesson).

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