Railroad Wars-Central Oregon
Leaders: Leslie Olson, Dick Bryant
Coordinator: Leslie Olson
Saturday, June 10, 2023
Time: 8:30 AM to 3 PM
On Saturday June, 10 Leslie Olson and Dick Bryant led a group of 7 ASCO members on a field trip to abandoned and existing portions of the 2 railroads that were constructed up the Deschutes Canyon from 1909 to 1911. We were privileged to have Steve Lent along to give us some of the history of how James Hill with the Oregon Trunk RR (Great Northern ) and Edward Hillman with the Deschutes RR (Union Pacific ) battled to be the first to complete a line into Central Oregon.
We gathered at the old railroad depot in Redmond. The building was originally located along the tracks, which is now occupied by the Redmond bypass. This building is a duplicate of the depot in Bend.
From there we traveled north on 97. A brief stop was made north of Terrebonne to observe fences that were partially constructed with old rails from sections of the roads that were abandoned. Our next stop was at the small village of Gateway, which the existing tracks pass through. We made a brief stop at the “city hall” and enjoyed a chuckle. A narrow twisty drive took us down to the mouth of Trout Creek and a point know as the South Junction. Originally the two roads were forced to share a 10 mile section of track coming upstream. .At this point the 2 roads split again and the UP began its climb out of the canyon to Madras while the GN continued up the east side of the river. While at the Trout Creek Campground we took a brief hike up river along the abandoned section of the GN grade.
From Trout Creek we drove back thru Gateway, across Agency Plains to Highway 26 and again to the river. At the bridge across the Deschutes we left 26 and followed the old GN grade down river to the campground at Mecca Flats. A brief stop was made at the only existing abandoned tunnel left of many that were original built.
We left Mecca and drove to Lane Simstustus and another section of the abandoned GN track. This section had some serious rock cuts and trestles. From this point the track went up Willow Creek through a series of tunnels which no longer exist.
The GN track came out of the Willow Creek draw under the existing bridge built by the UP. The bridge is visible on the west side of Madras as you enter town from the south. A stop was made to observe this portion of RR along with the original UP bridge.
We headed back to Redmond after making a stop at the old depot in the town of Metolious, and at the old town site of Opel City north of the Crooked River Gorge.
It was a hell raising town during the rail construction, but is now nothing but fields.
The last stop was at Ogden Wayside State Park to observe the existing GN bridge across the Crooked River Canyon.
Trip Registration & Itinerary
Registration Opens: 8 AM, Saturday May 27
Limited to 15 participants
Visit various sites along the route Trout Creek-Mecca Flats-Madras-Metolius-Redmond. Travel will be on secondary roads as much as possible, starting at Trout creek (north of Madras on 97 by Gateway) and working our way back to Redmond. Learn about the 1910-11 building of two competing railroad lines up the Deschutes River.
Meet at the Redmond Coffee Company, 3716 SW 21st Pl, Redmond, OR 97756, which is in the old Redmond Depot to start the trip. It has some nice historical information.
Parking is limited at some stops, so we have a 15 participant limit. If you decide to ride with someone else, you cannot leave your car at the Redmond Depot. You can leave your car at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds close by. The total driving distance is about 80 miles.
There will be some walking involved. If you would like to walk on the old rail grade (now a hiking trail), be sure your shoes are comfortable and close toed. Be aware that these areas have ticks and rattlesnakes.
Bring lunch or purchase along the way in Madras or Metolius. Remember your hat, sunscreen and water.