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Unused Prineville rail line being converted into recreational trail

(Update: Clarifying that railroad tracks were removed years ago)

PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A stretch of long-idle railroad tracks in Prineville are now being turned into about a half-mile walking and biking path, from Northeast Juniper Street to Combs Flat Road.

Mayor Jason Beebe says he remembers watching the trains going by as a kid.

"Ran down to Ochoco Lumber and ran through Prineville. When I was kid, this thing was running full-time," Beebe recalled Monday. "I'd come down here to the park, and there'd be trains every day."

However, Beebe says, those days are long gone, as the rail line had been dormant for a long time and the tracks themselves were removed years ago. 

So the city decided to do something with the route: creating a 10-foot-wide, paved trail.

"Luckily, our city engineer comes up with a lot of good ideas and works well with a lot of groups, and decided to go after a trail system," Beebe said.

And that's exactly what he did. So the city secured an ODOT Rails to Trails grant, which has paid for 90 percent of the $400,000 project.

The mayor says he thinks it's great how it all came together.

"Right where we're at, we're pretty close to a creek and some amenities and a park, so it's just another opportunity to get people out walking around," Beebe said.

James Good, who owns a local bike shop, Good Bike Co., is also excited to see the new trail come in.

"It’s incredible I guess, right?" Good said. "Why wouldn’t you want -- I mean, any trail that’s going to get you off of road or highway, I see as a huge advantage, and maybe if anything, I mean any mileage ... if anything I'd like to see that mileage multiply by X."

The trail should be finished within the next two months, and the city is hoping to add to it this summer.

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Blake Allen

Blake Allen is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.

Comments

15 Comments

    1. In my hometown, a major S.P. line ran through, and it was legal to ride the freight trains. You’d often see the transients standing in an open boxcar door as the train went by. Such free rides are strictly illegal now.

  1. Washington state used an old rail line between Chehalis and Raymond (about 50 miles) as a biking trail. Some conflicts occured due to the proximitry of private property along the line, and riders not respecting that. Have not heard recently if still in use, but it was very popular

  2. I remember as a kid watching the train go through Prineville. All us kids would run, ride bikes or scooters or what have you and race to the tracks to see the train go by. Later I would ride my horse (horses were allowed to be kept in town back then) to go see it as my horse was not afraid of them. When I was about 8 Mom told us that when she was a kid in Missouri she would lay a penny on the track for the train to run over. We tried it and we never found the penny. Dad told me that it had stuck to the train’s wheels and would derail it down the tracks someplace. We never did it again. Later we learned that the pennies were known for flying off the tracks and you had to go hunting for them. And Dad said that just to frighten us into not doing it again because you have to lay the penny down just before the train is within sight. He didnt want us to get ran over. Those were the days. I miss those days.

  3. It is interesting how ODOT has money to fund airport expansions and projects like this, but then whines about not having enough money to build and maintain roads. A project like this is pretty cool, but should it be funded from our fuel taxes?

    1. It’s Oregon. They fund pet projects, then whine that there’s not enough to fund basic services.

      47 administrators keep their jobs, but the one dude who drives a backhoe gets cut because that’s what hurts the voters the most so they agree to fund more garbage.

      1. Yeah, that’s universal though, and not unique to Oregon. And people do not get laid off “because that’s what hurts voters the most”.

    2. You have heard the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” – There are a lot, or a few persistent, folks visiting Salem pushing for this stuff while the rest of us are sitting at home assuming our legislators will be doing the right thing.

  4. A very vital detail was left out of the story, my opinion reinforced by a couple comments on here – The rails were removed several years ago, it is just a trail on the old roadbed – which is still fantastic.

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