The hordes of awestruck visitors who admired the scenery at the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition would have been shocked if they'd known the beautiful little lake would be gone in 20 years—filled in for industrial lands. Not a trace remains.
Finn J.D. John—October 21, 2012
The lake took its name from Peter Guild, an early 19th-century settler who owned nearly 600 acres. After his death in 1870, landowners modified the area to accommodate sawmills, railroads, shipping docks, and Portland's city garbage incinerator. Channel-deepening in the Willamette River improved the city's status as a deep-water seaport, as did completion in 1914 of a port terminal which helped make nearby Guild's Lake the most important industrial area in Portland.
In 1905, the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition was held on an artificial island in Guild's Lake. After the exposition ended, developers filled the lake and its surrounds with rocks and gravel from the Balch Creek watershed above the floodplain. The Guild's Lake area was promoted as a good place for industry, and by the mid-1920s the lake had turned into "a drying and settling mud flat ... awaiting development.
During WWII, the Guild's Lake Housing Project provided temporary housing for workers in the nearby shipyards. Then, after the war, chemical and petroleum processing and storage, metals manufacturing, and other large industries expanded in the area. In 2001, the Portland City Council adopted the Guild's Lake Industrial Sanctuary Plan aimed at protecting the area's "long-term economic viability as an industrial district."