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You read a speech of David
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"THE CITY OF PRINEVILLE RAILWAY" Oregon, they found a charming little valley at the junction of two rollicking mountain streams. These had cut their channel eight or nine hundred feet down through the hard lava flow that ages and ages ago spread itself in a sheet of molten rock over this region. One stream was called the Ochoco and the other, from its characteristic course, was unhesitatingly called Crooked River. These early pioneers may have wondered just where these clear, cold streams came from in the midst of such a desert. Enough for them, however, that their waters flowed so close on the surface as to make it a comparatively simple job to turn it out onto the level land of the valley for irrigating purposes.
Thus began the little settlement of Prineville. All about them, up on top of the lava plains, lay one of the finest live-stock ranges to be found in all the West, especially in winter. Naturally they became range live-stock men, and as such prospered. For forty or more years Prineville was the central point of southeastern Oregon. They had dreams of some day rivaling Portland, far to the northwest. But alas for their future! no railway came near them. To the west, along the coast, and again to the north, along the great Columbia River, men built railways, but none ventured into that desert of lava rock and pumice. Then came the well-remembered fight between two great railway builders, each eager to outstrip the other in being the first to open up the huge belt of timber that covered the eastern slopes of the Cascade Ranges along the head-waters of the Deschutes River. For some time it looked as if this line would touch Prineville on its way to the south from the Columbia, but fate decreed that the road could be most economically built by going considerably to the west of the town, so their one chance for a railway was everlastingly blasted.
For about ten years they hoped against hope that the builders of the road up the Deschutes River would take pity on them and at least build a branch line into their town. But their hopes
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A CITY THAT OWNS A RAILWAY (Continued)
never came to pass. The freighters' outfit and the four-horse stage, and later the auto, were their only means of transportation. Then, with the grim'determination of the Western people, the Prineville business men got together and said, "Let's build our own railway." "Can't be done," said some. "No town of three thousand people ever did such a thing," said others. "Railways cost money to build. Where will it come from?" asked many more. But the boosters of Prineville persevered. "Here's our new neigh bor 'Bend,' over to the west," they exclaimed. "It's only three or four years old, and it has a railway all to itself. Why can't we have one? Let's show 'em what Prineville can do when she tries." That they had only about three thousand population back of them made no difference.
So they showed 'em all right. Five years ago the town issued $300,000 worth of handsomely engraved bonds, pledging itself for their payment, and with the proceeds built a road that climbed up the side of the deep canyon onto the level desert above and connected with the other line about twenty miles to the west. Then Prineville celebrated in true Western style. At last they were joined with civilization by bands of steel. Instead of a steam locomotive they secured a gasoline motor that is somewhat like unto a modern motor bus. It is provided with a regulation cowcatcher and at times has been known to make the twenty miles to the junction in one hour flat. Also it carries about twenty passengers. Behind it lumbers the oddest little box car ever seen on wheels, which carries the trunks and express matter. Moreover, that little old gas buggy has been known to haul ten car-loads of cattle at one fell swoopregular sure-enough cattle cars, be it understood, which they borrow from the railway. On these two vehicles the designation "City of Prineville Railroad" is painted in large letters, and every resident is proud of the distinction borne by his home town of being the only town or city in the United States that owns a regular, honest-to-goodness broad-gauge railway.
The management of this rather unique enterprise is intrusted to three business men, appointed by the city Council, who, I was told, serve without pay. These men "hire and fire," adjust rates and fares, boost for business, and in general are the President, Chairman of the Board, general superintendent, road master, and section foreman of the entire works. For them the edicts of the Federal Inter-State Commerce Commission have no fears. The decisions of the Railroad Labor Board of Arbitration or the orders of the heads of the great organizations of railway workers affect them not. Coal miners may quit working, but it's the price of gasoline that worries the managers of this road.
Does it pay? Well, just about. They swear, however, that nobody ever expected it to.
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