Before the turn of the last century, the large meadow area at the top of the butte was cleared and an orchard planted by the first settlers. In 1925 the City of Portland purchased the land from George Wilson for future water reservoirs, but continued to lease the northeast portion of the property to Henry Anderegg, a farmer and owner of Meadowland Crest Dairy, until 1948 when the farming was discontinued. However, dairy cattle were permitted to graze on the acreage to preserve the pastures. In the mid-1970s, the Water Bureau prepared a development plan for Powell Butte that called for the construction of four 50-million gallon underground reservoirs to be located at the north end of the butte. In 1981, the first reservoir was built. A second 50-million gallon underground reservoir was constructed in 2014. These reservoirs serve as the hub of the Water Bureau’s distribution system.
You can still see a few of the old orchard tree still standing. Most of the high area of the butte is still grass land. Next to the parking lot you will find (if open) building with information on Portland water system (and bathrooms if they are open. On top close to the old orchard is a viewing area with signs that point out the major mountain peaks that surround Portland. You will also find miles of trails that can be hiked year round and a now nature park slowly return to a wild state.