Erickson’s Saloon for the Oregon Encyclopedia

Separating myth from history is no easy task when you’re dealing with a location as fabled as Erickson’s Saloon.

Writing this entry for the Oregon Encyclopedia was both a challenge and an honor. Stewart Holbrook’s legendary “Elbow Bending For Giants” created an enduring myth, one which has overshadowed the oft-disputed reality with its few contemporary primary documents. I was fortunate to find an article dating decades before Holbrook (reproduced after the jump).

In addition, the role of human trafficking and sexual exploitation at Erickson’s has been largely ignored since the 1930s. It’s too late to uplift the voices of the voiceless for their records are gone. But it is important to acknowledge their suffering and the exploitation that was part of the rollicking masculine space.

“Erickson’s: A Logger’s Reverie” The Four L Bulletin. February, 1925. Courtesy of Oregon Historical Society: “Portland—Saloons”

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