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William Finley

Audubon Society of Portland is devoted to the conservation of Oregon's last remaining wild places. Our first articles of incorporation, written in the early 1900s, reflect this sentiment: "to use any and all lawful means for the protection of the wild birds and animals for the State of Oregon and elsewhere."

Our work officially began with the passage of the Model Bird Law in 1903, which protected native birds from being shot and sold in the marketplace. Inspired by such a success, volunteers worked on a plethora of conservation issues throughout Oregon in the early and mid-1900s. Among other things, in 1925 we sent letters to then-President Calvin Coolidge asking him to set aside Hart Mountain as an antelope refuge. Members also played a major part in the establishment of national wildlife refuges in Oregon, such as Finley and Bohlman, who publicized Three Arch Rocks, Klamath and Malheur to the public and Theodore Roosevelt. Their work led to the establishment of these refuges and their protection, including paying for the wardens. 

The Eliots

In the early 1960s, Audubon Society of Portland led the way to the establishment of William L Finley, Baskett Slough and Ankeny National Wildlife Refuges in the Willamette Valley. In 1959, we also appeared at legislative hearings that allowed for the passage of the Model Hawk Law. In a nutshell, we have dedicated hundreds of thousands of hours to Oregon's biodiversity - from the Northern Spotted Owl, to wild salmon  - and we are actively working toward conservation.


1909 - Board of Directors of Oregon Audubon Society files Articles of Incorporation with the State of Oregon. William L. Finley is its first President.

1912 - Mamie Campbell and Dr. B.A. Thaxter organize the state's first Junior Audubon Club.

1913 - Mail-order sales of aigrettes and other forbidden plumage prompts Oregon legislature to prohibit wearing of such plumage.

1917 - R. Bruce Horsfall, a nationally recognized naturalist and bird artist, paints 33 watercolors of Western Bluebirds, the basis for the book "Bluebirds Seven."

1918 - Congress approves the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

1920 - William L Finley, President of Oregon Audubon Society, organizes the struggle to protect Malheur Lake from drainage for agriculture.

1929 - Oregon Audubon Society purchases 12 acres of property on Cornell Road for $3,750.

1930 - The estate of Henry Lewis Pittock donates 18.5 acres to add to the Cornell Road property. 

1938 - Willard Ayres Eliot becomes the first on-site caretaker. Lillian Post Eliot, Willard's wife, starts to take in injured and orphaned birds. Pond built in honor of Samantha Jane Seaman, great great grandmother of Dave Marshall.

1946 - The first invasive plant work party is initiated against Himilayan Blackberry.

1949 - Construction begins on Audubon House (now the Nature Store and Heron Hall). Oregon Audubon Society had 335 members.

1963 - Wood ducks nest in the pond.

1976 - Mike Uhtoff became caretaker. Membership grows to 1,947.

1981 - The Collins Foundation donates $60,000 toward the purchase of Founders Sanctuary.

1987 - The current Wildlife Care Center facility is built, with capacity to treat more than 3,000 animals a year.


Memorable Active Members Of The Oregon Audubon Society

During the First Half of the Last Century

by David B. Marshall

Note: With some exceptions as noted, this was taken mainly from memory. Most of this could be documented from various written sources.

Bohlman, Herman T.
Bohlman was William L. Finley’s photo partner for many years. He was really the person behind the camera whereas Finley was not the least bit mechanical.

Bohlman also owned and operated the car they used, first a Franklin of about vintage 1908. Their friendship began with boyhood at the turn of the century, but eventually ended, probably in the late teens. See William L. Finley.

Campbell, Mamie
Mamie is well known for her liaison with the schools and setting up youth programs, including the junior Audubon memberships during the 1930s.

Her husband, A.L. Campbell, was also active and took some of our early photographs. A.L. Campbell established the towing and crane service which carries his name. Look at major construction projects in the metro area and you will often see a Campbell crane.

Crenshaw, Fred and Edith
Edith and Fred lived in the house which was converted to our office building. They preceded Mike Uhtoff, and served as sanctuary caretakers for a number of years. They were great ambassadors for the society, hosting all kinds of visitors. Fred was a retired physician and Edith a retired nurse.

Crowell, William H.
Dave Eshbaugh wrote the following in a February 7, 2002 memo to the board about W.H. Crowell; it covers him well and appears correct to me.

“William Hamblin Crowell was an accomplished architect and one of the most important and influential members of the Oregon Audubon Society. Crowell was instrumental in establishing the Audubon House and Wildlife Sanctuary in Portland. As a member of the board of directors in 1929, he helped arrange the purchase of twelve acres west of McLean Park and north of Cornell Road for the Audubon Society. Crowell was the most persistent advocate for expanding the sanctuary and negotiating with the city over zoning and easement issues. He designed the Audubon House and oversaw its construction.”

“W.H. Crowell organized the Christmas Bird Count in Portland for over forty years. He was an Audubon member from 1914 until 1962.

He served on the board nearly continuously from 1926 to 1955 and was its fourth president (1938-1941). In 1955 he was named one of Oregon Audubon Society’s first honorary vice presidents.”

Dave went on to recommend that the board re-name Heron Hall “W.H. Crowell Heron Hall.” Originally it was named W.H. Crowell Hall. Somehow it got changed to Heron Hall over confusion with former board member John Crowell (who became Asst. Secretary of Agriculture for forestry during the Regan administration). John is not related to W.H. Crowell.

- Excerpted from "Memorable Active Members of the Oregon Audubon Society," by David Marshall

Download the pdf to read more.

Our First Fifty Years

By Tom McAllister

pittock bird sanctuary sign

Audubon Society of Portland, one of the first in the nation, has blazed a trail of nature protection and appreciation that has shone for a century.

Our vibrant young state was a land of unlimited opportunity and was filling fast when Portland Audubon had its origins with the opening of the 20th Century. The Lewis and Clark Centennial and American Pacific Exposition and Oriental Fair of 1905 was held in Northwest Portland at the site of Guilds Lake. Wintering swans, ducks and geese gathered here before the lake was filled. That fir was the bash that put the City of Roses on the world stage.

There was still “free land” for homesteaders in the public domain. The deep loess soils of the Columbia Plateau were ripe for transformation from native Bluebunch Wheatgrass into wheat and the upper Rogue and Hood River valleys into orchards. Vast forests of Ponderosa Pine, Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar and Sitka Spruce were the finest in the Nation. Hard rock mining, salmon canning, wool and wheat for local mills and export and lumber formed the basic industries.

Original Audubon House
Original Audubon House

In 1902 Portland had 90,400 population. Astoria was then Oregon’s second largest city, 8,400, and Baker City, 6,600, was third. Commerce with the markets of the world, fishing and mining were the job foundations for that one, two, three, ranking. Incomparable runs of salmon, virgin soils, mineral riches and a wealth in timber just opening for rapid extraction with the onset of railroad logging filled Oregonians with boosterism and optimism.

While we struggle in the 21st Century with overcrowded highways and the expense and pollution of our cars our founding members traveled cheaply and conveniently by railroad, trolley and interurban lines, the latter powered their first electricity from turbines at Willamette Falls and new dams on the Clackamas and Sandy rivers. Comfortable sternwheelers and fast packet boats kept schedules all along the Columbia and up the Willamette to Salem, Albany, Corvallis and Harrisburg.

In the beginning Portland birders formed a John Burroughs Club in 1898 under the leadership of the Reverend William Rogers Lord.

Lord authored the “The First Book of the Birds of Oregon and Washington” (1902) and was a lecturer of national prominence. He illustrated his programs with stereopticon slides of paintings by his artist friend Louis Agassiz Fuertes.

- Excerpted from 'Our First 50 Years' by Tom McAllister

Download the pdf to read more.
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