Mount Rushmore of Portland: the winners

These four historic figures left a legacy that will last for many years to come.

Mount Rushmore features cut outs of Portland's historic figures: Governor Tom McCall, author Beverly Cleary, drag queen Darcelle XV, and chef James Beard.

Left to right: Gov. Tom McCall, author Beverly Cleary, drag queen Darcelle XV, and chef James Beard.

Graphic by PDXtoday

Get out your chisels and climbing gear, folks. The results of our Mount Rushmore of Portland poll are in, and we’ve carved out the four names that came out on top: Gov. Tom McCall, Beverly Cleary, Darcelle XV, and James Beard.

Let’s get to know them a bit more.

Gov. Tom McCall

During his time as Oregon’s governor (1967–1975), Tom McCall balanced growth with environmental policies, protecting access to the state’s beaches and instituting a deposit on cans and bottles. Outside of politics, he worked in Portland radio and TV, co-writing a documentary, “Pollution in Paradise,” which unveiled the harmful effects of industrial pollution on the Willamette River. Today, the city’s waterfront park bears his name.

Beverly Cleary

Many locations from Beverly Cleary’s time growing up in Northeast Portland show up in her children’s books, like Klickitat Street, the site of her childhood home. Fans of “Beezus and Ramona” can see those characters come to life (as bronze statues) at the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden on the western edge of Grant Park.

Darcelle XV

Whenever Walter Cole took the stage as Darcelle XV, at the country’s oldest continuously running cabaret and as a champion for LGBTQ rights, her sparkle never dimmed. In 2016, Guinness World Records named him the oldest drag queen at age 85, but he continued performing well into his 90s.

James Beard

Born in Portland on May 5, 1903, the “Dean of American Cookery” went from a childhood in the kitchen to hosting the very first televised cooking demonstration. A short stint at Reed College was followed by a failed foray into opera singing and Hollywood; he wrote his first cookbook, “Hor d‘Oeurves and Canapes,” in 1940. Today, Beard’s profile adorns the coveted medals given to the best chefs, restaurateurs, and food writers in the US.