Forum Index > Pacific NW History > Deschutes Railroad wars
 Reply to topic
Previous :: Next Topic
Author Message
Dick B
Member
Member


Joined: 06 Jun 2013
Posts: 214 | TRs | Pics
Location: Redmond, Or
Dick B
Member
PostTue Sep 20, 2022 7:04 pm 
Here is some railroad history you might be interested in. Back in the early 1900s, two railroads fought their way up the Deschutes River canyon into Central Oregon. They fought each other and a lot of daunting terrain. Many tunnels, trestles and bridges were built. Much money and dynamite was also expended. The two competing roads were, the Oregon Trunk Railway (OTR) and the Des Chutes Railroad (DCR). The first was a subsidiary of the Great Northern (GN) run by James Hill and the other was a part of the Union Pacific (UP) system headed by Edward Harriman. John Steven, of Stevens Pass fame was involved in the layout and procurement of right of way for the OTR. A good read is a book by Leon Speroff titled "The Deschutes River Railroad Wars". The OTR took the west side of the river and the DCR the east side. Construction began in 1909 and ended in Bend in November 1911. The route covered a distance of 151 miles from the Columbia River to Bend. The GN made the full distance to Bend with Hill in attendance. The UP stopped at Metolius as they had no way to cross the Crooked River Gorge. Harriman died shortly before competing his section. Both roads operated until 1935, at which time they merged the tracks and each abandoned unused sections. DCR closed 73 miles and OTR 29 miles. Many depots were built, and a few are still standing today. One was built in Redmond, and a duplicate in Bend. Both were moved because of highway construction and put to a different use. Justification for construction centered on getting into and tapping the resources in Central Oregon. There were large stands of pine timber, lots of grazing land and a need for reliable passenger service. At that time all consumer goods were brought in by freight wagons and passengers by stage. In the 1920s the line was extended south and tied into the Southern Pacific (now UP) line further near Chemault. It took less than 100 years of over cutting and environmental pressure to eliminate hauling timber products as a source of revenue. The automobile closed the passenger service. The line is still very active hauling freight through Central Oregon between Washington and California. Pictures shown: Old DCR grade along lower Deschutes in 1990s. Now may be a trail Some old DCR cars (may have burned in a range fire) Sign at Metolius depot Metolius UP/DCR Depot (Seems unused) OTR tunnel at Mecca Flat Road near east entrance onto Warm Springs. Once was used for storage Old trestle remains on OTR line near Pelton Dam Crossing the Crooked River canyon Old Redmond depot. Now a coffee shop and office space

Schroder, Sculpin, JonnyQuest
Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Snowshovel
Member
Member


Joined: 05 Apr 2021
Posts: 156 | TRs | Pics
Snowshovel
Member
PostWed Sep 21, 2022 6:22 am 
The big restaurant in Terribone was a depot too. A second floor was added at a later date. When it was turned into an eatery, the second floor was removed for headroom and large glu-lams were laid about the interior at the former second floor elevation to take the place of the now removed diaphragm

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Sculpin
Member
Member


Joined: 23 Apr 2015
Posts: 1201 | TRs | Pics
Sculpin
Member
PostWed Sep 21, 2022 11:10 am 
So the multi-use trail that runs along the east side of the lower Deschutes must have been the railbed for the old Des Chutes Railroad. Fascinating!

Between every two pines is a doorway to the new world. - John Muir
Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Dick B
Member
Member


Joined: 06 Jun 2013
Posts: 214 | TRs | Pics
Location: Redmond, Or
Dick B
Member
PostWed Sep 21, 2022 12:00 pm 
I'm curious as to how far the trail extends along the old grade. I would estimate that the end of the road at Macks Canyon is about 20 miles upriver from the Columbia. Another interesting old UP building to visit if you are ever in Maupin is the section foremans house. It was sold to a private party when the UP closed that line. The depot disappeared. The building is now owned by the BLM. I volunteered with a group to repaint the building in UP livery several years ago. The building is listed on the national historical registry. I had pictures of our work, but those pictures went into a black hole at some time. There are pictures of it on the internet. Google "maupin section foremans house" and it should come up.

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Sculpin
Member
Member


Joined: 23 Apr 2015
Posts: 1201 | TRs | Pics
Sculpin
Member
PostThu Sep 22, 2022 7:00 am 
Dick B wrote:
I'm curious as to how far the trail extends along the old grade. I would estimate that the end of the road at Macks Canyon is about 20 miles upriver from the Columbia.
Google maps shows a dotted line labeled "Deschutes River Trail" that runs about 15 miles upstream along the grade. At that point there is the first of a series of big washouts, but you can see that folks have worked their way around the washouts to continue on the route. Definitely some gnarly spots in there. From Macks Canyon it looks like the old grade is still maintained as a road, mostly labeled "BLM Access Road," all the way to Maupin. For at least the 20 miles I traced on Google Maps, it looks like the west side of the river was a much better route.

Between every two pines is a doorway to the new world. - John Muir
Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Dick B
Member
Member


Joined: 06 Jun 2013
Posts: 214 | TRs | Pics
Location: Redmond, Or
Dick B
Member
PostThu Sep 22, 2022 1:35 pm 
Here is what I know of the lower canyon on the old Des Chutes (UP) route. We camped a couple of times at Beavertail, just upriver from Macks Canyon. The whole road follows the old UP RR grade from Maupin to Macks Canyon. Worst road I think I ever drove on for a sustained distance. We had a small Toyota motor at the time. Max speed was not more that 10MPH if that. I wasn't sure if we would have anything left of the MH or not. Wife got bad case of poison oak. Our dog got ticks. So many that we had to have the vet take them all out. I don't recommend going there in the spring in tick season. Summer is too hot. Go late fall. I digress. I pulled up google earth and could follow the improved trail. I read somewhere that it was multi use for hiking and bikes. From the end of the graded trail, it goes into the old original roadbed. You can still see the ties on the aerial with a narrow man-made trail along side. Pretty much as it was when we walked it from Macks Canyon back in the 90s. I believe the wash outs or gullies were there when the road was built, and they just built a short trestle across. The trestles are gone but the footing I observed is still there. Hikers just made their way around those places. I don't think any but hard core bikers would want to bike it. A couple of more 90s pictures are attached. You can see the footings of the short trestle. The 2nd is the grade looking down river from near Macks Canyon. Interesting your take on the OTR route. I think John Stevens got the jump on the UP folks as far as acquiring the route. He stopped Harriman from getting to Bend because he tied up the only feasible crossing of the Crooked River Gorge. If I doubled a picture its cuz I'm confused :>(

Sculpin
Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
   All times are GMT - 8 Hours
 Reply to topic
Forum Index > Pacific NW History > Deschutes Railroad wars
  Happy Birthday marzsit, NacMacFeegle!
Jump to:   
Search this topic:

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum