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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Water Bureau

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Mt. Tabor Reservoirs Preservation Project

  • Autumn Fog Beyond Reservoir 5 © Andrew Haliburton

  • Mt. Tabor Gatehouse 5 © Andrew Haliburton

  • Snow on Mt. Tabor Reservoir 5 © Andrew Haliburton

  • Nightfall on Reservoir 5 © Andrew Haliburton

  • Reservoir 5 fence and gatehouse

Last updated: May 12, 2020

Mt Tabor Park Map showing reservoir locations

Caption: Map of Mt. Tabor Park showing the locations of Water Bureau Reservoirs.

Project Overview

The City of Portland has committed $4 million over a four-year period (2016-2020) for maintenance, repair, and preservation work identified in the Mt. Tabor Historic Structures Report (written in 2009 and updated in 2016). The reservoirs are part of the Mt. Tabor Park Reservoirs Historic District, located within the historic Mt. Tabor Park District. Both the Reservoir District and Mt. Tabor Park District are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  

While the three open reservoirs at Mt. Tabor no longer supply drinking water, they continue to be important assets to the City of Portland. The iconic views of the reservoirs and across the reservoirs to the city beyond are an integral part of the historic and treasured Mt. Tabor Park. These historic views, together with these historic structures, are protected by local and state historic resource regulations. 

The commitment to carry out preservation work at Mt. Tabor was born out of Portland City Council Resolution #37146 (July 2015), which was jointly crafted by the Portland Water Bureau and concerned citizens from the Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association. The work provided for in this resolution helps the City affirm the community’s shared responsibility to care for publicly owned historic resources and public spaces. This resolution recognizes that these are important City assets and honors the City’s policy that its capital assets should be maintained, where applicable, during the assets’ useful life (FIN 6.11). 

In the years leading up to 2020, two projects will unfold in the Reservoir District on Mt. Tabor:

1) The Preservation Construction Project is addressing structures and the preservation maintenance they need; and 

2) The Interpretive Program is crafting educational materials to capture the intriguing story of the reservoirs and their historic role in Portland’s drinking water system. Note: This project is separate from the Preservation Construction Project and is a condition of the land use review final decision that allowed disconnection of the Mt. Tabor reservoirs. We have grouped preservation and interpretation projects together on this webpage for easier access.

A project team comprised of Portland Water Bureau staff, Portland Parks staff, representatives of the Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association, and representatives of the Friends of Mt. Tabor Park are working together to implement the work related to both the Mt. Tabor Reservoirs Historic Preservation Project and the Mt. Tabor Historic Interpretive Program.