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  • Deschutes River Railroad War, 1909 - 1911 by Steve Lent

Deschutes River Railroad War, 1909 - 1911 by Steve Lent

  • 18 May 2023
  • 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM
  • OSU-Cascades, Obsidian Hall, Room 207 and Zoom

Video for this presentation is unavailable.

This presentation provides a photographic history and narrative of the last great railroad war in the United States. In 1909 James J. Hill of the Great Northern railroad and Edward H. Harriman of the Northern Pacific Railroad decided to push their respective railroads into Central Oregon. Because of their huge egos they decided to stage a race with the spoils to go to the first railroad to arrive at Bend.

The two railroads blasted their way up the Deschutes River from the Columbia. Each side frequently sabotaged the other as they raced construction up the canyon. In a very expensive and wasteful effort the two railroads built parallel lines on each side of the Deschutes River until they reached Trout Creek. Hill’s Oregon Trunk line continued along the Deschutes to near Warm Springs then up Willow Creek to Madras. Harriman’s Deschutes Railroad went up Trout Creek to Gateway and then into Madras.

The obstacle that eliminated joint railroads arriving into Bend was the Crooked River Gorge. Hill had obtained the right of way at the narrowest portion of the Crooked River Gorge and it was too cost prohibitive to build two massive bridges so it was a joint effort from Crooked River Gorge to Bend.

Steve Lent, historian emeritus of the Bowman Museum in Prineville, presents the tale of the Hill versus Harriman saga. Numerous vintage photos illustrate the expensive and hotly contested construction.

Mailing address: PO Box 8146 Bend, Oregon 97708-8146

Email: ascoinfomail@gmail.com

"Archaeological Society of Central Oregon" is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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