A Western Regional Railroad - 1930's - 1940's
Oregon Electric Railway


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The Oregon Electric Railway (OE) was an interurban railroad line in the northwestern United States that linked Portland, Oregon, to Eugene, Oregon. Service from Portland to Salem, Oregon, began in 1907. Jim Hill's Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway purchased the system in 1910, and extended service to Eugene, with a branch to Corvallis. in 1912.(wik) By 1914 the passenger service to Eugene consisted of five daily trains each way, including two limited trains with observation lounge cars serving buffet meals, on the 122 mile trip from Portland to Eugene. The limited trains required reservations. There were, at that time, nine daily trains to Wilsonville. 22.5 miles, and 18 trains between Portland and Garden Home. The Southern Pacific saw the Portland-Eugene traffic expanding on the OE and in order to compete electrified it's line near Portland in 1914 and through Salem to Corvallis in 1917.. The SP never did reach Eugene. The SP installed Red Electric trolley service on the line. It lasted only until 1929 when SP stopped running their Red Electrics.
By 1931 the OE service was still plugging along but at a reduced pace. Service had been pared back to two daily Eugene trains, the mid-distance service was now cut back to Tualatin, 14 miles, with 10 trains, and 13 to Garden Home.(rp) Regular passenger service along the Willamette Valley ended in June 30, 1933, though freight operations continued. Operation as an electric railroad ended July 10, 1945. The railway survived into the 1990s, ultimately as a Burlington Northern feeder. BN operated the last freight train on the Portland-Beaverton segment of this mainline on December 31, 1994, in preparation for the construction of Westside MAX, part of the TriMet light rail system.
Many portions of the old OE are still maintained. Long stretches of track from Tigard to Salem are now owned by the Portland and Western Railroad, as is a short spur line in Beaverton. The segment from Tigard to Wilsonville will host passenger service again beginning in February 2009 as part of the new Westside Express Service (WES) regional rail route. (wik)

Oregon Electric
Oregon Electric
March 19, 1914

Short History of the Oregon Electric Railway
1907 - Oregon Electric builds an electric trolley line from Portland North Bank Station, Jefferson Street Station, Garden Home, Tigard, Tualatin, crossing over the Willamette River from west to east to Wilsonville, reaching Salem, Oregon, and cars begin operation.
1910 - Jim Hill's Spokane Portland and Seattle Railroad purchases OE and plans expansion.
1912 - OE expands southward east of Willamette River to Albany, on July 4, where it replaces the street railway.
1912 - Line completed to Eugene, on October 15, crossing back over to the west side of the Willamette near Junction City.
1912- OE extends branch line to Corvallis.
1914 - Southern Pacific, which virtually controlled steam lines up and down the Willamette Valley and South to California, decided to electrify some of their steam lines to give the Oregon Electric some competition. Service from Portland, to nearby suburban areas, on the Red Electrics, was inaugurated on January 17, 1914.
1914 - On the OE there were five passenger trains a day between Portland and Eugene including reserved limited service with observation club lounge cars with buffet meal service and coaches. 18 trains to and from Garden Home and 8 as far as Wilsonville. Branh line service to Corvallis with 5 trains, and Forest Home with 9 trains.
1917 - SP Red Electric interurbans now running to Corvallis.
c 1920 - By 1920, sixty-four Red Electric trains operated daily. The Red Electrics were very fine passenger cars and their service was excellent. The interiors were trimmed in Mahogany and the beautiful plush green upholstered seats made the ride fairly comfortable.
1925 - Buses begin to replace SP Red Electric trolleys Portland to Corvallis,
1929 - The SP Red Electric service lasted for only 15 years. The last car ran October 5.
1931 - OE service to Corvallis and Eugene down to two trains per day, 4 to Albany and Wilsonville, and 13 to Garden Home. Forest Home branch cut to 2 trains.
1933 - OE passenger service discontinued, but freight service continues.
1945 - OE electrified operations discontinued.
1970 - SP&S, owner of OE, merged into Burlington Northern System so OE is now part of BN.
1992 - BN and Santa Fe merge to become BN-SF.
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Oregon Electric map
Oregon Electric - 1914

OE/SP map
Oregon Electric and SP Red Electric
showing competitive electric lines
Portland south to Salem, Corvallis, Albany and Eugene.
Oregon Electric via Albany
Red Electric via Corvallis
Note that the SP does not reach Eugene.

Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- April 1940
Oregon Electric Railway Historical Society
www.pdxhistory.com/html/red_electrics.html
The Electric Interurban Railways in America-Hilton & Due- pp 395-97
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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright Richard Parks, April 30, 2009, revised Sept, 26, 2011