Levees, and Dams:
Controlling the Slough
would only save private interest at the expense of
the community. . . The public interest is paramount;
private interest when it comes into conflict with
the public interest must give way.
June 1918 Portland Telegraph editorial, "The Columbia Slough"
The Slough remained in its natural state through the early twentieth century, but as population increased and industry developed, questions arose regarding its use. Some property owners wanted to cut a canal between the slough and the Columbia to create a current strong enough to carry sewage to the Willamette River. Others protested.
is much sickness among children in the community. This
they attribute to the unsanitary conditions caused by
lack of sewers.
Portland Telegraph, 8 May, 1913
The city of Portland pushed for flood control and reclamation, placing the Slough under jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers. In 1918, the Portland Chamber of Commerce approached the Secretary of War for federal assistance in damming the slough. This incited anger on the part of some community residents who argued that the Slough was a valuable industrial resource, needed for sewage disposal and navigation. According to Ellen Stroud whose master's thesis, "The Unnatural History of the Columbia Slough," describes early conflicts over managing the slough, the newspapers "appear to have identified 'public interest' with the interest of a greater number of business people."