Well, I've lived in Oregon my whole life and it is true, if you head down to Swan Island, you aren't going to see any swans, and you won't be on an island. I do suggest if you want to see some swans there are some great places in the Milwaukie area that have some.
But, back to the island that isn't an island. You see in Swan Island used to be an island until the 20s when they filled in the space between the island and the neighborhood to make them connect. I'm guessing that was so they wouldn't have to build a massive expensive bridge.
You see, Swan Island was where the original Portland Airport was located and sometime during the 20s it was dedicated by Charles Lindbergh. It was later converted to a naval shipyard during World War II. Even today, if you head down to the Northwest end of the island, you can still see Naval ships on the docks being repaired from time to time. Most of Swan Island is now industrial, but the Navy still does have an outpost there.
As for how it got its name? I can't find anyone who seems to know and even the historical society wasn't exactly sure. But they are guessing at one time swans may have actually been a regular sighting off the island before the airport was there.
Todd Clark (Principal Broker)