Prineville Railway gets chugging thanks to ODOT grant

| Print |  Email
Monday, January 01, 2007
PrinevilleRailway0107.jpg

PRINEVILLE — The old children’s fable The Little Engine That Could is the made-to-order analogy for the City of Prineville Railway thanks in part to a $2 million grant from ConnectOregon, a lottery-funded Oregon Department of Transportation program that invests in transportation infrastructure.

The railway, the oldest continuously operated municipal shortline railroad in the United States, will use the money to continue development of a 37-acre freight depot located at a former Prineville lumber mill. It’s a fitting location for a railroad that in its 1970s heyday hauled 10,000 cars of freight, most of it lumber from Prineville’s lucrative mills. As the mills played out, so did the railway, hauling just 87 cars in 2004.

Dale Keller, the railway’s business development manager, credits Rob Corbett, Prineville’s city manager, with recognizing the potential in reviving — and reinventing — the 89-year-old city-owned railroad. That potential included increasing the amount of freight hauled (up to 500 cars in 2006) and offering the ability to unload, transfer and warehouse freight for Central Oregon industries.

The railway’s two mandates are to get the railroad on its feet and create family-wage jobs. “You create that, and the business comes. And it is coming,” says Keller.

The railway connects with both the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern railroads, a unique transportation advantage that translates into savings for companies like LP Engineered Wood in Hines. LP used to truck materials and products to and from Boise, Idaho, but now uses the Prineville freight depot to store materials and to ship products all over North America.

The rails have significantly reduced LP’s transportation costs. “It’s actually an integral part of our shipping operation,” says Jim Campbell, LP plant manager.

The railway negotiated a land trade for the depot site and has made some improvements already, including a heavy-equipment ramp. When it’s completed in about four years (city officials hope to win additional ConnectOregon grants), the depot will handle conventional freight and heavy equipment, operate a warehouse system, and transfer liquids. The first phase will construct an additional rail spur and warehouse, and rebuild an existing structure.

If Prineville can become the next commerce hub for the growing Central Oregon region, the railway might just chug its way into another 89 years.

— Sharon Vail

Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

More Articles

Preserving the Legacy

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A New York floral and gift business takes on the iconic Harry & David brand.


Read more...

The Private 150: From Strength to Strength

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

Revenues in Oregon's private, for profit sector maintained solid growth as the economy continued to rebound.


Read more...

Fixing Oregon’s broken roads

The Latest
Tuesday, June 09, 2015
RUCCostComparison rev4-30BY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

The technology at the center of Oregon’s road usage fee reform.


Read more...

The 5 highest revenue-generating parks in Oregon

The Latest
Thursday, June 11, 2015
parksthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

In 2014, total revenue for camping and day use in Oregon State Parks was a little more than $17 million. That figure may even higher this year "because we've had exceptionally nice weather," Hughes says.


Read more...

Urban renewer

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
UnknownBY LINDA BAKER   

One year after he was appointed chair of the Portland Development Commission, Tom Kelly talks about PDC's longevity, Neil Kelly's comeback and his new role as Portlandia's landlord.


Read more...

Oregon needs a Grand Bargain energy plan

Linda Baker
Monday, June 22, 2015
0622-gastaxblogthumbBY LINDA BAKER

The Clean Fuels/gas tax trade off will go down in history as another disjointed, on-again off-again approach to city and state lawmaking.


Read more...

Urban benediction

Linda Baker
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
072215 THUMB Credit-PontificalAcademyofSciencesBY LINDA BAKER

Charlie Hales has long viewed sound urban planning as the route to salvation: social, economic and environmental. This week, the mayor's city design philosophy got the nod of approval from a bona fide spiritual authority, Pope Francis.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS