First Advisor

D. Richard Lycan

Term of Graduation

Winter 1975

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geography






Port of Portland (Or), Commercial products -- Classification



Physical Description

1 online resource (4, x, 160 pages)


Most of the United States port authorities delineate their hinterland by the use of freight rate schedules used by inland carriers. The hinterland is defined as that region having favorable rates to and from a port. The use of freight rate schedules can be applied to a) individual commodities or to b) all the commodities moving through a port. The freight rate method is built on the "rational man" concept. That is, a situation is assumed where there is "perfect knowledge" and a desire to minimize transportation costs. This assumption does not always coincide with reality.

This paper classifies commodities according to the facilities required to handle them. This is most relevant to port authorities who decide what special facilities may be needed. This classification is also highly relevant to the delineation of port hinterlands. If a port does not provide a given facility for loading and unloading, commodities requiring that type of facility for handling cannot move through that port.

The delineation of "facility hinterlands" has two advantages. First, it more closely approximates reality than does the use of freight rates. Second, while it is more time consuming than using freight rates, it does not require expenditures of time and money as large as with the determination of individual commodity hinterlands. Facility hinterland delineation, thus, offers an alternative for port authorities.

The Port of Portland has four main groups of facilities for handling imports and exports: dry bulk, break-bulk, containerized cargo and liquid bulk. In addition, the Port of Portland has special import facilities for steel and automobiles, and special export facilities for grain and logs. The major source of data used to obtain the domestic origins and destinations, by tonnage, for each facility group was the 1973 Export and Import Domestic City Origin and Destination Report Quarterly Reports.

The origins and destinations are, in most cases, warehousing and distribution points. Therefore, the hinterlands, as identified, are not necessarily ultimate origin and destination hinterlands, but rather they are hinterlands of transshipment points. A port city is a focal point, a gateway, for inbound and outbound cargo. It is expected, therefore, that Portland should have a larger warehousing sector in its economy, than cities which are not ports, which handles a great deal of cargo that does not originate in, nor is destined for, Portland.

In an attempt to ascertain the volume, by facility group, of cargo that actually originated in or was destined for Portland, a questionnaire was sent to the exporters and importers who handled cargo originating in or destined for Portland. The questionnaire was sent to all exporters and/or importers who handled 100 tons or more in any given quarter of 1973. The data from the responses to the questionnaires was combined with the original data to delineate the Port of Portland's hinterlands.

Edward Ullman's three-factor typology fits the flow of export goods from domestic origins, through the Port of Portland, to foreign destinations. Complementarity, transferability, and intervening opportunity, each represent factors making the northwest quadrant of the United States the Port of Portland's export hinterland. Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming make up the heart of this hinterland to varying degrees generally correlated to distance. The states bordering the hinterland tend to be less important than those in the hinterland, but more important than states even more distant. The three-factor typology, also, fits the flow of import goods from the Port of Portland to domestic destinations. The three factors combine to place the Port of Portland's import hinterland primarily in Oregon and Washington. However, complementarity provides a basis for an extended commodity flow in terms of distance and magnitudes for imports.


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