The Crooked River Dinner Train has a new owner and is back on track. The dinner train will kick off its season of weekly train operations through the Crooked River Valley in March. Weekend departures will include the famous Jesse James train robbery, murder mystery performances, an enhanced menu, and more. New for 2009 is the addition of Cougar Canyon BBQ, featuring the new owner of the dinner train and owner of Cougar Canyon Catering, Jimmy Brundage, better known in these parts as Jimmy B.
“Jimmy B. of Cougar Canyon saw inspiration in our team,” said Steven Moyer, past operations manager and now general manager of the train. “After meeting him, I decided to join forces. With Jimmy’s enthusiasm, talent and long-term commitment, we now have the ability to truly make the vision of our train come to life.”
According to Prineville city officials, ridership had been steadily decreasing since last fall, hence the decision to permanently shut the train down at the end of 2008.
Since then, The City of Prineville Railway actively sought qualified individuals or entities interested in leasing or purchasing the dinner train operation. Seeing the potential, Jimmy B threw his hat into the ring with several other private parties in January and succeeded in seizing the opportunity.
“We’re planning on our first run to be sometime in mid-March,” said Jimmy. “Every member of the talented cast will be coming back to deliver even more entertainment and delicious food. More importantly, I feel really good about providing 21 jobs and a great experience for locals and visitors to Central Oregon. We understand people are going through difficult times right now, but we want to continue and improve upon a Central Oregon icon and offer more value. We have exciting plans for special events and themes and really appreciate the outpouring of support we’ve received so far.”
Moyer said, “There was so much disappointment expressed to us from the public after the shutdown. Well, I am here to say, that we’re still going strong and can’t wait to see y’all again.”
“Past history shows that guests on the train come from around the globe,” said Jimmy. “Tourists make up a large portion of the business, but there is also a large local base. I’m looking forward to establishing even stronger relationships with the visitor industry and offering locals more incentive to enjoy this unique experience in their own backyard. We want every guest to let go of all the stress and worries of life for three hours and just have fun. Let it out and come join us in the year 1890,” he said with a smile.
The dinner train was constructed in the 1940s. The cars were originally intended for cargo, but were converted into dining cars about 20 years ago. The first attempt to offer just fine dining fell short, so the first play was incorporated.
According to Moyer, it wasn’t until Pat Daily bought it in the early 1990’s that the train reached its potential. This is when the first version of the current system began, and has been evolving ever since. Pat Daily brought the concept of Jesse James and his gang to life on the train. “Having a cast of people who are in all the plays helps staff really know the characters no matter how the mystery is written.
This is also vital to be comfortable enough with your character to improvise on a spur of the moment basis,” chuckled Moyer. “If you’ve never taken a ride on the train, you’d be amazed by the spirit and energy onboard. It’s a feeling not felt in many places. People from every end of the spectrum and all over the world, all have a blast together.” It’s not about just sitting and watching a play while having dinner,” he continued. And, you’re likely to hear the same comments time and time again from, “There is no better way to experience the Crooked River Valley” to simply “WOW, that was fun!”
“We’ve been blessed with the support of the community here in Central Oregon and look forward to providing more great times and memories for many years to come,” said Jimmy.
If you’re looking for one of the most unique experiences in Central Oregon, climb aboard the Crooked River Dinner Train and ride today!
Information: 541-/447-6251, www.crookedriverdinnertrain.com