Graffiti found at Portland’s loading docks is more than it appears

The Lower Willamette River is known for its Superfund site and industrial loading docks. There is no natural shoreline, just huge vertical piers. It’s an interesting, if dehumanizing landscape.

Over the years I’ve noticed that in seemingly inaccessible places there’s graffiti; but not your typical tagging or subway-style scrawl. It’s more homemade, more rudimentary somehow.

After a few years of staring up at it and wondering just how it got there, I had an epiphany.

I looked up some of the words on the piers, like Jalamoti (could it be from 1977?) and here’s what I found courtesy of