Though plans were afoot years earlier to bring Bull Run water to Portland, it was on June 17, 1892 that President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed the Bull Run watershed a national forest reserve, thereby protecting the area from development that could have negatively effected the water quality.
Within a year, construction began on 24 miles of pipeline from Bull Run to Portland. This mammoth project of brush clearing, ditch digging, and road building was done largely by hand. The Water Committee began constructing reservoirs at Mt. Tabor and City Park (now known as Washington Park) and expanding the City’s distribution system. These ambitious public works projects continued through 1894.
Up until January 2, 1895, when the Bull Run water arrived in town, Portlanders made due with hearty river, well, and creek water (and the accompanying dysentery and typhoid).