Union Pacific donates to help build 'Oregon Pony' a new shelter

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CASCADE LOCKS, Ore. — A $10,000 grant from Union Pacific will pay for a new building to shelter the 154-year-old Oregon Pony steam locomotive. The 0-4-0 is displayed inside a climate-controlled building in Cascade Locks, but the building is deteriorating from dry rot and a leaking roof.

Owned by the State of Oregon, the Pony was the first steam locomotive to be to be used in the Oregon Territory. San Francisco’s Vulcan Iron Works built it in 1861. Weighing 8 tons and measuring only 14.5-feet long, the engine arrived in Oregon in 1862 and made its initial run May 10, 1862. It replaced mules pulling flat cars with benches for passengers over 4.5 miles of iron-reinforced wooden rails for the Oregon Portage Railway. It was christened “Pony” because it replaced the mules. The engine moved nearly 200 tons a day between Cascade Rapids and Bonneville. Waters from Bonneville Dam have since covered the area where it originally ran.

The Oregon Steam Navigation Co. bought the railway and in 1866, the navigation company sold the locomotive and it returned to San Francisco for work filling and grading the streets of the city. After the Oregon Pony was damaged in a 1904 fire, the owner partially restored it and donated it to the Oregon Historical Society in Portland. It was displayed at the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition and afterward at UP’s Albina Yard. In the 1930s, the Oregon Pony was moved to Portland Union Station, and then in 1970 it was returned to Cascade Locks. The Port of Cascade Locks funded a 1981 restoration and built the permanent, covered display that will now be replaced by a new building. The structure could be up to three times as large as the old one, with room for visitors to walk inside.

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