(Photo | Courtesy of City of Prineville)
City Turns 150 — Railway Turns 100
The City of Prineville, Central Oregon’s oldest city, is turning 150 and the Prineville Railway, the longest-running, city-owned-and-operated railroad in the country, is turning 100 this summer.
The city is celebrating its sesquicentennial and Prineville Railway is celebrating its centennial with two days of family-friendly events and train rides August 24 and 25.
Prineville was founded by Barney Prine in 1868 as Prine and was renamed to Prineville in 1872. The first freight train arrived in Prineville August 24, 1918. A century later the Prineville Railway continues to spur economic development and evoke community pride.
“Prineville was originally built by timber, ranching and the railroad. But it was also built by a pioneering spirit that continues today. The first settlers who came here 150 years ago found the same thing the city offers today: abundant land, opportunity and a ‘never say quit’ mentality,” said Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe.
As the oldest and most prominent town in Central Oregon in the early 1900s, citizens of Prineville believed their town would be on the route of any railroad built in the region. Citizens were shocked when they were twice bypassed by railroads in favor of the new town of Bend. Several private investment groups failed, and July 7, 1916, the Prineville City Council passed Ordinance 234, which authorized the city to build a railroad line and issue $100,000 in bonds to finance construction and levy taxes to cover bond obligations. The ordinance went to the voters and was approved by a vote of 348 to one.
Today the railway provides a vital link between businesses and consumers. Businesses such as Les Schwab Tires, Pacific Firs, McCall Oil, Superior Carriers, Envirotech Services, Parr Lumber, Malheur Lumber Company and Fontana Wood Products depend on productivity gains from partnering with Prineville Railway.
“150 years of history and economic development deserves a celebration, and we invite everyone to join us,” said Mayor Roppe.