THE GREAT SOUTHERN RAILROAD
By Jerry Tanquist, PNWC contributor; edited by Ron McCoy February 7, 2014.
The Great Southern RR was built in 1905 by John Heimrich and his son J.G. Heimrich. It ran from The Dalles, Oregon to Dufur, following 15 Mile Creek for most of the distance. In 1913 it was extended to Friend, Oregon. The total route was 41 miles. The original intention was to build a railroad from the Columbia River through central Oregon, all the way to San Francisco. (Thus the “Great” in its title)
During 1909 to 1911 railroad giants James Hill and Edward Harriman built competing railroads up the Deschutes river canyon to Bend, and with that ended Heimrich’s dream of greatness for his railroad.
Its main source of revenue was hauling wheat. Warehouses and grain elevators were built at many sites along its route. It also hauled passengers, timber and miscellaneous cargo.
The Great Southern Railroad fell on hard times by 1927, with the coming of roads and trucks and the deterioration of its right-of-way. In 1931 it was in bankruptcy and closed down in 1936.
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