Sumpter Valley Railroad

Reporting mark: SRVY
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Route in 1931 The railway was incorporated in 1890 by David Eccles.[4] The 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge railway's purpose was to haul logs to the Oregon Lumber Company sawmill in South Baker City. The sawmill and railroad remained separate corporations of the same owners for the life of the railroad.[5] The builders of the railway also owned the Grande Ronde Lumber Company in Perry, Oregon, and the railway was financed by Mormons in Utah.[6] The line was built over terrain originally considered as part of a railway from Denver, Colorado to the Pacific coast; but the Union Pacific Railroad opted for a different route to avoid bypassing growing communities which might provide an attractive opportunity for competition by the rapidly growing Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company.[5]

Much of the original equipment came from the Utah & Northern Railway in Idaho and Montana. The Union Pacific owned the line and began converting it to standard gauge around 1887. Eccles owned a significant amount of Union Pacific stock, exerting enough influence to acquire the now-unneeded narrow gauge equipment. The first locomotive to arrive was a small 4-4-0 numbered 285; the Sumpter Valley also purchased a number of the U&N's Brooks 2-6-0 locomotives, along with a large number of boxcars and flatcars. In 1906, the railroad also acquired four locomotives from the Tonopah Railway (later the Tonopah & Goldfield Railroad).[4]

By 1891, the line had reached McEwen, 22 miles (35 km) west of Baker City, and the railroad began offering passenger and freight service. To reach uncut forests further west, the company extended the line in stages. It reached Sumpter in 1896 and continued southwestward to Whitney, Tipton, Austin and Bates. By 1910, it arrived in Prairie City, a ranching and mining community along the John Day River in Grant County.[7] The railroad continued to use wood fuel for their locomotives until converting to oil fuel in June, 1940. Diamond-shaped smokestacks were replaced by cabbage-shaped Rushton stacks after 1916.[5]

Ten years later, the railway began losing business to automobiles and trucks, and in 1933 the 20 miles (32 km) of track between Prairie City and Bates were abandoned. Scheduled passenger service on the remaining line ended in 1937. Freight service remained, however, and in 1939 the railway purchased two 2-6-6-2T "mallet" locomotives from the Uintah Railway in Colorado. These engines were converted from coal to oil burners and given tenders from two 2-8-2 locomotives. As traffic declined, the railway sold off the other, unneeded locomotives.[4] In 1947, the railroad ceased all operations except for 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of track in the Oregon Lumber Company yard in South Baker City. This last section was abandoned and removed in 1961.[7]


Baker White Pine Lumber Company Clear Creek Trestle (Baker County, Oregon)
Built 1927 demolished 1948
Lost Timber stringer bridge over Clear creek on Baker white Pine lumber company railroad over clear creek

SRVY - Alder Springs Trestle (Baker County, Oregon)
Lost Timber stringer bridge over Alder Creek on SRVY Rwy
No longer exists

SRVY - Powder River Bridge (Baker County, Oregon)
Lost Timber stringer bridge over powder River on Sumpter valley railroad
No longer exists

SRVY - Red Bridge (1st) (Baker County, Oregon)
Lost Double-intersection Warren through truss bridge over Powder River on Sumpter Valley railroad
Replaced by a new bridge

SRVY - Red bridge (2nd) (Baker County, Oregon)
Lost Steel stringer bridge over Powder River on Sumpter Valley Railroad
No longer exists

SRVY-Telephone Springs Trestle (Baker County, Oregon)
Lost Timber stringer bridge over Unnamed Creek on Sumpter Valley Railroad
No longer exists

Sumpter Wye bridge (Baker County, Oregon)
Tracks relocated Here in 1954 when dredging took place under the Former Wye So The line at this point was relocated Into the tailings.
Lost Bridge over Powder River on Sumpter valley RR
Replaced by a new bridge

UP - Dewey Avenue Overpass (Baker County, Oregon)
Built 1951
Steel stringer bridge over OR 7 (Dewey Ave) on Union Pacific Railroad
Open to traffic