|Last Update: July 14, 2006
|This is a personal rail fan site about the City of Prineville Railroad. To visit the OFFICIAL
City of Prineville Railroad website, please click on the below link.
|Check out my short video of the City of Prineville Train in Action
17.5 MB - 4.50 minutes long
|The City of Prineville Railroad is unique in that it is entirely owned by a municipality, the city of Prineville, Oregon. It is also the oldest
continuously operated municipal owned railroad in the United States. It was originally constructed in 1916 to connect to the jointly owned,
Union Pacific / Oregon Trunk Railroad mainline. Prior to that, Prineville was one of the largest cities in central Oregon, but neither the UP or
Oregon Trunk had any interest in building a line just to service that city. The larger railroads didn't think it was economicly feasable to build and
maintain a line there. However, the city fathers of Prineville felt the town would die if it didn't get railroad service. The town finally took matters
into their own hands and incorporated the Prineville and Eastern Railway in 1911. With city funds, the line was built around 1916 to 1917 and
started hauling freight and passengers in 1918.
Traffic was minimal in the first few decades and the city even defaulted on the bonds it issued in the 1930s. Just prior to World War Two,
passenger service on the line ceased as more people opted to travel by car or bus. However, following World War Two, things began to
change. The tracks were upgraded which allowed for heavier traffic and lumber mills increased production in the area. In the 1950s and
1960s, traffic was so high that Prineville had one of the lowest tax rates of any city due to the revenue from the railroad.
Today, the line operates three diesel locomotives, with one generally committed to pulling the Crooked River Dinner train which operates year
round, mostly on weekend and holidays. Intitially, the dinner train was operated by a private company, but a City of Prineville Railroad locomotive
and crew pulled the train on COPRy tracks, but today, the Dinner Train is entirely owned by the City. The line also occasionally operates a steam
locomotive that is owned by the Oregon Historical Society. (see below)
The line is 19 miles long, connecting the city to the mainline which is now jointly operated by Union Pacific and Burlington Northern. There are
multiple spurs and switches to different mills within the industrial district of Prineville. The interchange takes place at Prineville Junction. Two
EMD GP20s and one EMD GP9 locomotives as well as 139 box cars are owned and used by the railroad today.
Jeff Moore of the McCloud Rails Website. who also has his own City of Prineville RR Website. told me that two major steady customers of the
COPRy were the Crown Pacific and Ochoco Lumber Companies. Both closed down in 2001. There are a few small mills left in town, but it's
not clear if any of them ship by rail. One the of the last major freight movements they handled came in late 2002 when a large number of
carloads of burned logs from the Arizona fires rolled into town to a reload center, where they were reloaded onto trucks for final delivery to a
sawmill in Prairie City. Today, the Crooked River Dinner Train is one of the largest operations on the railroad, but it does still ship some freight.
The City of Prineville should be commended because tremendous steps have been taken in the last few years to not only save the railroad, but
make it a viable for the future and to service the City of Prineville and play a major roll in its future industrial growth. Today, they are just
beginning, but some of the improvements include putting up a new comprehensive website in 2005, marketing new opportunities for
businesses to move to Prineville and/or expand with reliable rail service via the new Prineville Freight Depot, and expanding and improving the
Crooked River Dinner Train. The Crooked River Dinner was once privately owned and operated, but is now 100% owned and operated by the
City of Prineville Railway. The Mount Emily No. 1 Lima Shay has returned to service to give passenger rides for special events, which will no
doubt attract more attention to this railroad. In addition, the City of Prineville has hired a new General Manager, Dan Lovelady. Mr. Lovelady was
the General Manager for the Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad, one of the largest shortline railroads in Oregon. Clearly Mr. Lovelady comes
with experience and the City of Prineville has clear intentions to return the railroad to a viable and valuable resource to the region.
We certainly wish them well and hope the historic City of Prineville Railroad remains a part of this state for many more years to come.
|This is Prineville Junction. Milepost 0 of the City of Prineville Railroad and where the shortline connects with the Oregon Trunk, BNSF and Union Pacific's
shared railroad mainline. Photo on the left is looking south from the Junction on the BNSF/UP mainline. The next two pictures are looking north. The track on
the right is the Prineville Railway. The cars are City of Prineville Ry cars apparently set out for BNSF/UP to pick up. Evidence that this line is still shipping
some product as of August, 2005. The last picture is looking east down the City of Prineville Railway where the two legs of the wye connect.
Photos: August 2005
|City of Prineville number 989 is an EMD GP20, built in November, 1954 This is an ex-Milwaulkee Road locomotive that came to the City of Prineville in 1983.
Rosters indicate that locomotive started life as a GP-9. It was apparently converted from a GP-9 to a GP-20 at some point. The original 1750 h.p. diesel was
apparently swapped out for a 2000 h.p. diesel. The railroad has an additional unit that is nearly identical, number 985 that was built in June, 1954 and an
ex-Burlington Northern EMD GP-9, built in 1956 and aquired by the COP in 1996. It makes 1750 h.p. Photos: August, 2005
|These photos of the same train were taken more than a year earlier. Photos: July, 2004
|Photos of the Crooked River Dinner Train including the interior office/concession car. The other photos show the wye looking east. On this day, Engine 985 is
parked on a siding just east of Prineville Junction after pulling the Sunday Brunch dinner train. Apparently, the next day will involve moving these box cars to
Prineville Junction to be interchanged with the UP/BNSF. Photos: May, 2006
|Down the Line
|Photos taken back in July, 2004 of the Dinner train several miles from Prineville Junction on its way to Prineville. Photos: July, 2004
|Much of the line looks like this. Long, relatively straight and flat. This is roughly halfway down the line. Photos: August, 2005
|Roughly halfway in between Prineville Junction and Prineville is this short siding. It appears to have been construction specificly to store MoW equipment.
Possibly as a passing siding for Mow equipment. Today a MoW Tamper was parked here. Photos: May, 2006
|The only two significant bridges on the line are these. The one on the left crosses over the Crooked River. The one on the right is a short bridge several miles
west of Prineville that crosses over a local highway. Photos: July, 2004
|Prineville's active spurs and railroad shops
|At the left is a map of the Prineville Railroad in and around Prineville. The middle photo is looking west as the line enters Prineville. At the right is looking
east at some unique lumber cars that appear to be ready to be loaded. The one thing you're struck by when coming into town in the large number of unused
box cars stored throughout the city. Of approximately 400 that were leased by the line in 1977, about 139 are left, but with the closure most of the shippers in
town, most of the boxcars are on the various sidings in storage. Photos: August 2005
|One interesting feature of the railroad in Prineville is a steep spur in town that leads up to a hill. The photo on the far left shows the mainline as it approaches
town. The track on the right continues into Prineville and to the Railroad shops. The track on the left is what I call the upper spur. The next photo shows the
elevation difference between the mainline which is level with the street and the spur which is approximately 50 feet higher in the distance. The next photo
shows the upper spur crossing the highway. The next two photos show the upper spur from the top looking down as it snakes up the hill and the mill that the
spur finally ends at. Before reaching this mill, the spur also served several other industries. Today, more cars are stored along the spur.
Photos: August, 2005
|Just before entering the railroad shops, the line crosses the highway. The first thing we see is the old scale house and a now rarely used caboose and boxcar.
Photos: August, 2005
|These close up pictures of the scalehouse and caboose were taken in July 2004. The scale house and scale track is apparently no longer in use.
Photos: July, 2004
|This caboose, number 201 is the only unit that is apparently used by the railroad, although I don't know if its still actively used today. It was built in 1945 and
used by the Lehigh Valley Railroad as their number 95043 before being purchased by the City of Prineville. The locomotive was just recently repainted orange
and black to better match the COPRy colors and is now pulled behind the Shay when it runs. Exterior Photos: July, 2004 -
Interior photos (through window) May, 2006
|Wide angle shots of the City of Prineville Railway shops. Here you can see two of the railroads three diesel locomotives, the fuel tanks, railroad shops and
several other buildings and pieces of equipment. Photos: August, 2005 & May, 2006
|More photos of the shops, box cars stored in the area and equipment of the City of Prineville Railway. Photos: August, 2005
|More photos of the shops, box cars stored in the area and equipment of the City of Prineville Railway. Photos: May, 2006
|This very interesting piece of history was set outside the COPRy shops. Exactly what it is, I'm not sure, but it appears to be a hopper of some type. Perhaps a
ballast hopper. Made almost entirely of wood. It's condition is fairly poor, but it appears largely complete. I'd like to know the history and estimated age if
anyone knows. Photos: May, 2006
|More photos of the shops and track MoW equipment and boxcars taken a year earlier. Photos: July 2004
|I spotted this ex-Missouri Pacific Lines # 12117 in July, 2004. More information about it can be found on this website. It was one of two similar type cabooses
I saw in town at that time. The other was at the old Ochoco mill site. This caboose was still here a year later in August, 2005, but the one at the Ochoco mill
site was gone by then, having been auctioned off and moved in November, 2004 to Sisters, Oregon. Photos: July 2004
|Number 985 is an EMD GP-20 built in November, 1954 for the MILW Railroad. (Milwaulkie Road) It was one of those sister units purchased by the COPR in
1984. Since the closure of the mills and primary shippers on the line a few years ago, number 985 doesn't see as much action. But it appears to be the
primary freight shipper, while its sister, 989 is the primary Dinner train puller. Photos: August 2005
|Number 1837 is a GP-9 built in March, 1956 for the Great Northern Railroad as their # 685. It later went to the Burlington Northern during the merger and was
renumbered 1837. The City of Prineville purchased it in 1997 as a back up locomotive. Today, its probably not used much.
4 left Photos: August 2005 - 2 right photos: May, 2006
|This interesting MoW car was parked near the railroad offices. It appears to have been a railroad MoW bunk car, but I'm not sure of its history or what the City
of Prineville plans to do with it. Just past the car before the railroad passes in front of the Railroad office/depot building, there is a stop sign signifying the end
of the commonly used track. The track continues another almost another 1.4 miles past here to what used to be the Ochoco Lumber mill. But the that track has
been essentially abandoned since the mill closed down in 2001. Photos: August 2005
|This interesting piece of equipment showed up on the COPRy property sometime after I last visited in Aug, 2005. It appears to be from Yreka, CA and is now
numbered 1000 by COPRy. I assume it will eventually be pulled by the Mount Emily Shay in future excursion trips on the COPRy.
|This is the office building of the City of Prineville Railroad. It happens to be located at the end of the active portion of the line in Prineville.
Photos: August 2005
|Prineville's (not really) abandoned spur
|The last 1.4 miles of the Prineville Railroad was a spur that lead to the Ochoco Lumber Mill at the far east end of Prineville. But in 2001 the mill was closed.
Serving no other real purpose, the spur fell dormant. For several years, the spur became overgrown as these photos show. However, today much of the spur
has been cleaned up and it is occasionally used by the Mt. Emily Shay to give rides from the Prineville City Park.
Photos: August 2005
|The Ochoco Lumber mill spur crosses Hwy 26 here and then proceeds to the mill property.
Photos: August 2005
|After crossing a city street, the spur then crosses over this short bridge before entering the mill property. In 2004, much of the mill and track still existed
although it appeared to have suffered recent fire damage. But in these August 2005, the mill property is completely flattened. Not a single building remains.
However, there are plans to possibly develop the property and utilize the railroad access. Photos: August 2005
|The mill property as seen in July 2004 (left) and August 2005 (right) Quite a difference a year makes. The mill was shut down in 2001 and probably burnt or
was partly dismantled by July 2004. But a year later, the property was totally flattened. Even the caboose, which belonged to the Ochoco Lumber Co. owner is
gone. Photos: August 2005
|More photos of the caboose that used to be located on the Ochoco mill property. It was an ex-Missouri Pacific caboose # 12097. Purchased by the Ochoco
Lumber mill owner about 10 years with the intention to restore it. But that never took place. It was auctioned off and moved to Sisters, Oregon in November,
2004. More information can be seen on this website. Photos: July 2004
|These are photos of the Ochoco Lumber mill as seen in July 2004. Note the buildings that existed then, but are now long gone.
Despite closing its Prineville mill, the Ochoco Lumber Company still exists and is actually still based in Prineville. But its mills are now located in other parts
of the country. Photos: July 2004
|Tom Wilson spotted these City of Prineville Boxcars just east of Wheaton, Colorado around late 2003 but was not sure why they were there. Pictures are
courtesy of Tom Wilson.
From Jeff Moore: The City of Prineville was one of many lumber-oriented shortline railroads on the west coast that arranged for leasing deals of boxcars. The
City of Prineville obtained it’s cars- 400 in number- in 1977.The recession of the late 1970’s/early 1980’s caused a steep decline in the need for these new
boxcars, and many were simply returned to their home road. The COP was not able to support all 400 cars they had with their own traffic, and as such the COP
began turning the leased cars back to Itel. Today the railroad only has 139 of these leased cars left on the roster, and nearly all of these are sitting in the
sidings around Prineville. This means that there are 261 ex-City of Prineville boxcars out there somewhere, such as these ones.
|Mount Emily Lumber Co. Shay No. 1
|An all new page, dedicated solely to the Mount Emily Lumber No. 1 will be forthcoming in the near future so stay tuned!
|The Mount Emily Shay No 1 is a large 80 ton class 3 truck Shay that began life in September 1923 when it was completed and soon delivered to its first owner, Hofius
Steel & Equipment Co. out of Seattle, Washington. It would soon be sold to Independence Logging Co. out of Independence, Washington, before finding its third
owner, the Mount Emily Lumber Company out of Hilgard, Oregon in 1928.
From 1928 through 1955, the Shay, serial number 3233, Mt. Emily Lumber Number 1, worked in Eastern Oregon near LaGrande, hauling logs for a local mill. By
1955, operations had ceased and the lumber company was made its last run. Of the locomotives on the Mt. Emily roster, was a rare Willamette c/n 15. When logging
operations ceased and it became apparent the locomotives were no longer needed, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry became interested in acquiring the
Willamette for display since it was actually built in Portland, Oregon, which the Mt. Emily Lumber Co agreed to do.
Unfortunately, the Willamette was scrapped by mistake before it could be donated. However, the 80 ton Lima Shay in their roster had not yet been scrapped and was
offered up to OMSI instead, which they accepted. The Mt. Emily No. 1 was towed in 1955 to the Union Pacific roundhouse at LaGrande. When that roundhouse
was torn down in 1958, the Shay was towed to Portland (at 10 mph with her line shafts still attached).
After measuring and weighing the Shay, OMSI soon determined it would not fit through the Vista Ridge Hwy 26 tunnel which separated OMSI, located in Washington
Park at that time, from the east side of Portland and the Shay. She would not be able to be displayed at OMSI as planned. OMSI donated the Shay to the Oregon
Historical Society in 1959. For a few years, the Shay was stored outdoors at the Northern Pacific Yards in Portland. After being spotted by folks of the Cass Scenic
Railroad in West Virginia, the OHS, negotiated a 10 year lease, in which the OHS would retain ownership of the Shay, but Cass could operate it.
In December, 1970 the Shay was on its way to the East Coast. The 10 year lease was again renewed and the Shay served more than 24 years at Cass. The Mt. Emily
Shay was an oil burner, however, most of Cass’s equipment burned coal. Because the Oregon Historical Society stipulated that Cass could not convert the Number 1
over to coal, it was an expensive locomotive for them to operate and not as favored.
In 1994, the Mt. Emily Shay No 1 was returned to Oregon and is now based out of Prineville, where the City of Prineville Railroad happily allows it to be run on its
branch line. In 1999, the Shay made the trip to California for the special Railfair down there. By summer 2006, the 15 year boiler refit was complete and it has
made several passenger runs out Prineville for the 2006 season. The Shay is expected to continue to operate out of Prineville for special events for the
One interesting fact about the Mt. Emily Shay is that while it was an 80 ton class Shay, it actually weighed closer to 95 tons, due to options such as an all weather
steel cab, girder frame and a larger water tank.
Built: 1923 - C/N: 3233 - Manufactured: Lima Locomotive Works - Boiler Pressure: 200lbs - Tractive Effort: 35,000lbs
Cylinder Diameter and Stroke: 13.5" x 15" - Fuel OIl: 1200 gallons - Water Capacity: 4000 gallons - Original cost: $28,070 (1923 dollars)
Special Thanks fo Martin E Hansen for most of the information contained here and for the color photos of the Shay!
|All color Mt. Emily Shay photos are courtesy of Martin E Hansen
|B/W Photo courtesy of Marc Reusser, Steam in the Woods and appears to show the Mt. Emily Shay
in Portland sometime between the late 1950s and early 1960s.
|Teri HIsaw of the Crooked River Dinner train was kind enough to email me the following information and history of the
Crooked River Dinner Train.
The City of Prineville, purchased the Crooked River Dinner Train on December 23, 2004 from Pat Daly the previous owner for 10 years. Crooked
River Dinner Train began operation in 1991 with a vision by the first owner Stephen Wright of bringing romance to the railroad. Wright began
promotional trips aboard the train he called the "Strawberry Desert Train", as part of a show case of the 38 mile round trip through the beautiful
Crooked River Valley. Although the dinner train was barely surviving with a huge amount of overhead Wright decided to sell his passion.
November of 1994 Pat and Joanne Daly purchased the dining cars, well aware of the fact that the dinner train was deep in dept and they took on
the adventure of a financially-troubled train. Mr. Daly watched the operation for weeks and began to make changes. In November of 1996 Mr.
Daly made a big change and a new fictional world was created for the dinner train. He united the duties of the actors and the service staff for the
murder mystery play "The James Gang Rides Again", written by Teri Hisaw, currently the Manager. The actors took on the personas of fictional
relatives of the notorious Jesse James Gang. In March of 1997 the dinner train became Central Oregon's #1 year round attraction. The dinner
train team players make it happen, their outstanding acting skills and their love for interaction with the guests generate comments such as,
"Award Winning", "Better than New York", "Broadway on Wheels", " Is this Hollywood?" and "The best time I ever had".
On December 23, 2004, The City of Prineville purchased The Crooked River Dinner Train an established business that draws people from all
over the Pacific Northwest, the entire United States and abroad. Bringing revenues not only to the dinner train, but also to hotels, gas stations,
restaurants and more to our tri-county area. Aboard the dinner train in a 1948 Milwaukee Road dining car Pat Daly and Robb Corbett (Prineville
City Manager) signed the contract and departed with a handshake and a smile.
Check out the
CROOKED RIVER DINNER TRAIN WEBSITE
Or call them at 541-548-8630
|Relevant Links to this Railroad
The official COP page.
Jeff Moore's City of Prineville Page
With some additional detailed history and information
Current roster of current and past COP locomotives
Scroll down to the bottom of this page for pictures of ex- and current COP locomotives
|If anyone has any further information on any of the above railroad that you'd like to share,
you can Email me anytime. Thanks.
|Copyright © 2004-2006 Brian McCamish, All Rights Reserved
Note about the photos on this site:
Most photos were taken by me, except for those that are otherwise indicated. I usually allow people to use my photos for personal use or
websites. Simply Email me. I may not have authority to grant permission regarding some photos that were only loaned to me by others
specifically for this website. Every effort has been made not to include other's photos without the proper permission and credits, however, if you
see any photos which belong to you and that I don't have permission to use, I apologize. If you send me an Email, I will remove the photos
immediately or give proper credit, which ever you wish.
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