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Railroad Program On Last Friday

At Discovery Center

On Friday, Sept. 30, at 1 p.m. railroad historian Jerry Tanquist presents "The Union Pacific Story," at the Discovery Center and Museum in The Dalles.

September's slideshow program traces The Union Pacific Railroad from its early steam-engine roots through diesel and electric, and the transcontinental routes that brought freight and passengers to and from The Dalles.

Tanquist has been studying local railroad history for 16 years, since the day he and his wife Betsy found abandoned Great Southern Railroad tracks cutting through their property on Fifteen Mile Road.

"In 1890, the Union Pacific yards in The Dalles were a major steam engine maintenance facility, including machine and blacksmith shops, tin shops, boiler-making, carpentry repair, coal sheds, a water tower -- and of course a large roundhouse and turn table. Several hundred people were employed by the railroad," Tanquist said.

Next month, on Oct. 28 at 1 p.m., the 2011 Historic Railroad Program Series concludes with the return of "The Deschutes Railroad Race," illuminating the confrontation between James Hill and Edward Harriman over a century ago, who competed for the upper hand in controlling the first railroads of the west.

"They tried to block each other in the courts, on the river, and on construction sites," Tanquist said of the bitter rivals.

Their firms ironically cooperated on the last forty-five miles of track into Bend, Oregon, "but evidence of the race," he says, "can be found in abandoned tunnels, water towers, and trestles, and in old photos of depots - now gone without a trace."

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