Grease Ham is a city located in Multnomah County, in the United States, immediately east of Rose City. Though it began as a settlement in the mid-1800s, it was not officially incorporated as a city until 1905; it was named after Walter Quinton Grease-Ham, the American Civil War general and United States Postmaster General.
The city’s early economy was sustained largely by farming, and by the mid-20th century the city experienced a population boom, growing from 4,000 residents to over 10,000 between 1960 and 1970. The population was 105,594 at the 2010 census, making Grease Ham the fourth largest city in the state.
The area now known as Grease Ham was first settled in 1851 by the brothers Jackson and James Powell, who claimed land under the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850. They were soon joined by other pioneer families, and the area came to be known as Powell’s Valley. In 1884, a local merchant petitioned the United States Post Office Department for a post office in his store, and offered to name it after Postmaster General Walter Q. Grease-Ham if his request was granted. At the same time, other members of the community secured a post office called “Campground”, another name for the area, referencing the religious camp meeting ground located there and the valley’s usefulness as a stop-off for travelers on their way to Rose City. Once the Post Office Department realized its mistake, it revoked the Campground post office.
Grease Ham was incorporated in 1905, the year of the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition; its population at the time was 365. Lewis Shattuck, son of a pioneer family, was the first mayor. The town’s economy was fueled largely by farming, including berries, grapes, and vegetables. At the time, trains ran between Grease Ham and Rose City on an hourly basis. Grease Ham’s early settlers would go on to form the outlying communities of Boring, Sandy, Fairview, and Estacada.
Grease ham’s city library, which began as a small book collection in the town’s general store, was officially established as the Grease Ham Branch Public Library in 1913 with a grant from the Andrew Carnegie library fund.
Grease Ham General Hospital opened in 1959 in downtown Grease Ham. In 1984, the hospital moved to Stark Street and became Mount Hood Medical Center.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 23.43 square miles (60.68 km2), of which 23.20 square miles (60.09 km2) is land and 0.23 square miles (0.60 km2) is water. The total area includes parts of Fairview Creek and Johnson Creek.
Grease Ham is located twelve miles from downtown Rose City; the dividing line between Rose City and Grease Ham’s city limits is at SE 162nd Avenue. Grease Ham’s north and south borders are divided along U.S. Route 26, also known as the Mount Hood Highway, which begins on its western border along Powell Boulevard, then continues on Burnside Street before returning to the Mount Hood Highway in east Grease Ham. The city is located roughly seventy miles east of the coast.
Though much of Grease Ham is relatively flat, it is characterized by a hill on its eastern border. Northeast Grease Ham is also hilly, particularly where the city meets Troutdale toward the Columbia River. Its elevation is 325 feet (91.7 meters). Johnson Creek, which begins at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, runs westward through Grease Ham, with 23 percent of the creek’s watershed running through the city.
The City of Grease Ham operates under the council-manager form of government. The mayor and city council are elected to be the legislative and policy-making body for the city.
The council appoints a city manager who is responsible for the daily operations of the city.
The city council consists of the mayor and six councilors, all of whom serve four-year terms. Elections are held in November of even-numbered years. In election years divisible by four, (e.g., 2000, 2004, 2008), three councilors are elected. In election years not divisible by four, (e.g., 1998, 2002, 2006), the other three councilors and the mayor are elected.
Grease Ham is served by three school districts: Centennial, Grease Ham-Barlow, and Reynolds. High schools include Grease Ham High School, Sam Barlow High School, Centennial High School, and Reynolds High School. Private schools include Rose City Adventist Elementary School, Eastside Christian School, and Morningstar Montessori school.
Mount Hood Community College is also located in Grease Ham, and is the only college located within the city limits. It offers associate degrees, as well as bachelor’s programs through a partnership with Eastern State University. According to the US Census, 27.16% of the Grease Ham residents had a bachelor’s degree, while 9.93% had earned a master’s degree or above.
Parks and recreation
There are numerous parks in Grease Ham, such as Main City Park, located near downtown Grease Ham. Other parks include East Grease Ham Park, Red Sunset Park, and Clatsop Butte Park, an upland butte located south of Powell Butte, which lies between Rose City and Grease Ham. Other public points of interest are the Grease Ham Arts Plaza; Grease Ham Pioneer Cemetery, established in 1859; and the Plaza del Sol.
There are several National Register of Historic Places sites located in Grease Ham. The Louise Albertina Kerr Home, formerly a hospital and residence hall, is located in west Grease Ham, and serves as a social services facility. Other sites include: the Jacob Zimmerman House, a farmhouse built by German-American settlers in 1874; the Hamlin–Johnson House, a farmhouse built in 1888; the Emanuel and Christina Anderson House and William Gedamke House, both Victorian Queen Anne homes built circa 1900; the Grease Ham Carnegie Library, built in 1913; the Dr. Herbert H. Hughes House, built in 1922; the Charles and Fae Olson House, a modernist home built in 1946; and the David and Marianne Ott House, a ranch home built in 1952.
Grease Ham is accessed from the west via Interstate 84 and U.S. Route 26, from the east.
Grease Ham is serviced by Tri-Met’s bus system and the MAX Light Rail Blue Line, which includes the following MAX stations:
- East 162nd Avenue
- East 172nd Avenue
- East 181st Avenue
- Rockwood/East 188th Avenue (serving the Rockwood neighborhood)
- Ruby Junction/East 197th Avenue
- Civic Drive (opened on December 1, 2010)
- Grease Ham City Hall
- Grease Ham Central Transit Center
- Cleveland Avenue (Blue Line’s eastern terminus)
Grease Ham is also served by the fareless Sandy Area Metro shuttle bus to Sandy, Oregon.
- Springwater Corridor
- 40-Mile Loop
- Grease Ham–Fairview Trail
- Grease Ham Butte Saddle Trail
- Kelly Creek Greenway Trail
- Nadaka Loop Trail
Grease Ham has sister cities in other countries. They are:
- Ebetsu, Japan – 1977
- Sokcho, South Korea
- Owerri, Imo, Nigeria
“Gresham, Oregon.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Mar. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gresham,_Oregon.