The City of Prineville 150th anniversary and the railway centennial deserve our attention

One thing that people in Crook County can depend on is that the summer is filled with ways to keep people entertained and busy. Looking back, we started off the season with the popular and iconic Crooked River Roundup then launched right into Independence Day celebrations. Who could forget we had two parades in a span of four days? Next came four days of horse races and no sooner had that ended that everyone was treated to the return of Picnic in the Park concerts, which of course dovetailed into celebration of the Crook County Fair.

But this year is special even beyond the usual attractions. At the end of next week, the community will celebrate two major milestones. The City of Prineville Railway reaches 100 years and, coincidentally, the City of Prineville is reaching the 150-year mark. Local leaders have made plans to celebrate both occasions with a two-day extravaganza involving the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce, Crook County Fire and Rescue and, fittingly, the keeper of our local history, Bowman Museum.

Friday and Saturday, Aug. 24 and 25, the town will offer everything from soldier re-enactments to presentations on the railway and the city. Want to watch a movie about Prineville? Head to the museum on Friday night and enjoy some popcorn and sarsaparilla. While you're there, take a look at the railroad exhibit that museum staff has spiced up for the centennial.

People can take train rides or walking tours of historic houses and enjoy a history lesson on vintage firefighting equipment. Add to that the opportunity to win some prizes — including a two-night stay at the Crooked River Inn Bed and Breakfast or the chance to be conductor for the day at the railway — and the celebration offers something for just about anybody.

We frequently try to encourage citizen participation in local events, particularly the ones that we have come to depend on during the summer months, but this is something that people will not want to miss. The anniversaries of the railway and the city deserve a big party where many guests show up and join in the fun. Consider how much Prineville and its municipally owned railway have endured. The community, a thriving community going into the early 1900s, faced the possibility of becoming a ghost town when it was passed over for the main rail line passing north to south through Oregon. Rather than throwing in the towel, community leaders responded with construction of its own railway that connected to the main line that passed Prineville by and likely saved the future of the town in the process.

The city and railway have survived the decline of the timber industry, two recessions during the past three decades and have not only come out the other side whole, but thriving. Prineville is enjoying a period of growth that has featured a new school and hospital with a long-awaited jail on the way. The arrival of Facebook and Apple have created a new and growing industry as well as a more diversified economy. Meanwhile, the railway has likewise diversified and rebounded from near extinction nearly 15 years ago to a city enterprise poised to turn a profit and attract new businesses.

These anniversaries are worth celebrating. The City of Prineville and its railway are throwing a party and all of us are invited. Don't turn the invitation down.

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