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The little community north of Madras was never incorporated as an official city

PHOTO COURTESY OF BOWMAN MUSEUM
 - The quiet farming community of Gateway did not exist until 1911 but grew rapidly before fading away.

Gateway is located about 10 miles north of Madras and is currently a quiet farming community.

It did not even exist until the Deschutes Railroad arrived in Central Oregon in 1911, but it rapidly grew to a thriving little community that eventually faded to only remnant old buildings that stand as a reminder of glories of the past.

The locale around Gateway was homesteaded prior to the turn of the century but consisted of scattered homestead buildings, and water was scarce. Access was limited to the vicinity, but that all changed when the Harriman interests constructed a railroad up from the Deschutes River and through the valley in 1911.

A railroad station was constructed at the site, and since it did not have a name, a railroad employee, George McFarland, christened the new station "Gateway" since it was situated at the location that the railroad emerged out of the Deschutes Canyon.

There had been a post office located nearby earlier, and it was named Youngs, but when the railroad arrived, a new office was created and given the name of Gateway on March 12, 1913. Noah Vibbert was the first postmaster.

Gateway was never incorporated as a city, but it did boast a railroad station, general store, furniture store, lumber yard, a grain warehouse and a saloon. A school was established shortly after the railroad arrived, and the only building available for use was the local saloon, which required extensive scrubbing and cleaning to remove stains from missed spittoons. A newer school house was later built. There was a school at Gateway until the early 1960s when the school was consolidated in Madras.

Over the years, railroad traffic ceased to stop at Gateway as automobile transportation replaced the use of railroads for passenger traffic, and the depot ceased to operate. Gradually the businesses disappeared, but the little general store continued to operate until 1958.

The aging, long boarded-up general store structure still stands, and there are a few homes in the valley — but that's about all that commemorate the once thriving little community.

Steve Lent is a local historian and assistant director of the Bowman Museum. He can be reached at: 541-447-3715.

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