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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Oregon Pony"
Includes ... Oregon Pony ... The Golden Age of Postcards ...
Image, 2005, South Support, Bridge of the Gods, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
"Oregon Pony", South Support, Bridge of the Gods Mural, Cascade Locks, Oregon. Image taken May 13, 2005.


The Oregon Pony ...
The Oregon Pony was the first steam engine in the Pacific Northwest and operated on the tramway built on the Oregon side of the Columbia River to portage around the Cascade Rapids.

History ...
In 1862 when the Washington portage, located on the north side of the Columbia River, announced plans to upgrade to a steam railroad, Captain John C. Ainsworth decided Oregon too needed a steam engine. Ainsworth was in San Francisco and purchased from the Vulcan Foundary, rails and a small locomotive - the 13-foot-long Oregon Pony - for shipment to the Gorge. Within a few months, workers transformed the old cart-rail system of Ruckel and Olmstead into Oregon's first railroad line. On April 24, 1862, the Oregon Pony, so named because it replaced the mules who had been hauling freight, began operation. The five-mile route went from Tanner Creek to the head of the Cascade Rapids, today the location of the Cascade Locks.

As written on the "AmericanWestSteamboat.com" website (2006):

"... Passengers and freight would travel the lower Columbia River to the Cascades on the Fashion, Carrie Ladd, Mountain Buck, or Julia. There they would put ashore and ride the portage railroad behind a tiny rail car, affectionately known as the Oregon Pony to the upper landing, where they would board the Idaho, Hassalo, or Wasco to The Dalles. There they would ride a horse drawn wagon for a short ride around Celilo Falls then board the Colonel Wright, Nez Perce Chief, Yakima, or Spray for a cruise to Lewiston on the Snake River. ..."

In 1863 the Pony operated on the Celilo portage at The Dalles, and three years later it was sent to San Francisco where it was used for leveling sand hills.

In 1905 the Oregon Pony was restored (at a cost of $2,000) and became an Oregon icon. It was on display at the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition held in Portland. The "Oregon Pony" was on exhibit in the Transportation, Electricity, and Machinery Building.

"... Here are housed many interesting displays. The transportation exhibit shows the different modes of travel, from the early days to the present time, from the baby carriage to the steam mogul engine. A feature of the transportation section is the first locomotive used in Oregon. The four wheels of the locomotive appear slightly larger than barrel hoops; the boiler is about as big as an apple barrel, and the whole engine is only thirteen feet long. It stands next to one of the largest and latest patterned locomotives constructed in the United States, and the contrast is vivid. This little engine, which bears the title "Oregon Pony," was the first locomotive used in Oregon. The Pony, as almost every visitor takes occasion to remark, is "not so much to look at." But in its day it was a great engine to work, and its history is so entangled with the history of early days in Oregon as to make it worthy of more than passing attention. ..." [Union Pacific Railroad brochure, 1905]
In the 1940s the Oregon Pony was on display at the Union Station in Portland, Oregon (see "The Golden Age of Postcards" below). In 1970 the engine returned to the Cascade Locks where it is now on display. It is on loan from the Oregon Historical Society and housed in a glass enclosure at Marine Park, Cascade Locks, Oregon. There is an information sign is out front and the Cascade Locks Museum is nearby. A mile west a painting of the Oregon Pony is included in the mural on the south support of the Bridge of the Gods.

The Oregon Pony at Cascade Locks ...

Image, 2006, Oregon Pony, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Glass enclosure, "Oregon Pony", at Cascade Locks Marine Park, Cascade Locks, Oregon. Image taken September 16, 2006.
Image, 2013, Oregon Pony, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
"Oregon Pony" inside glass enclosure, at Cascade Locks Marine Park, Oregon. Image taken May 19, 2013.
Image, 2013, Oregon Pony, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Name, "Oregon Pony", at Cascade Locks Marine Park, Oregon. Image taken May 19, 2013.
Image, 2005, Engine, Oregon Pony, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Engine, "Oregon Pony", at Cascade Locks Marine Park, Cascade Locks, Oregon. Image taken June 29, 2005.
Image, 2006, Wheel, Oregon Pony, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Wheel, "Oregon Pony", at Cascade Locks Marine Park, Cascade Locks, Oregon. Image taken September 16, 2006.


The Oregon Pony at work ...

Image, 2006, Oregon Pony, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Information sign, the "Oregon Pony" at work, Cascade Locks Marine Park, Cascade Locks, Oregon. Image taken September 16, 2006.


"The Golden Age of Postcards" ...

The early 1900s was the "Golden Age of Postcards". The "Penny Postcard" became a popular way to send greetings to friends and family. The Penny Postcard today has become a snapshot of history.

Penny Postcard, Oregon Pony, ca.1940
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Oregon Pony, ca.1940.
Penny Postcard, ca.1940, "The Oregon Pony". Published by Anderson Sundry Co., Portland, Oregon. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.

Caption on the back reads: "The Oregon Pony. The first steam engine to run on the Oregon Portage Railroad. Operated in 1862 and 1863, in freight and passenger service, on the southern bank of the Columbia River, between Bonneville and Cascade Locks. Now, stands in front of railroad depot, in Portland."
Penny Postcard, Oregon Pony, ca.1940
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Oregon Pony, Union Station, Portland, Oregon, ca.1940.
Penny Postcard, ca.1940, "Exhibit Union Station, Portland, Oregon.". Photo by Eddy. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.

Bronze plaque reads: "The Oregon Pony. First Locomotive in the Pacific Northwest. This engline was operated in 1862 and 1863 in freight and passenger service on the first Oregon railroad, on the southern bank of the Columbia River between Bonneville and Cascade Locks."


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, ...
 




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*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003

Sources: Cascades Locks Marine Park, Oregon Pony Information Sign, 2006; "Rootsweb.com" website, 2006.

All Lewis and Clark quotations from Gary Moulton editions of the Lewis and Clark Journals, University of Nebraska Press, all attempts have been made to type the quotations exactly as in the Moulton editions, however typing errors introduced by this web author cannot be ruled out; location interpretation from variety of sources, including this website author.
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Images are NOT to be downloaded from this website.
May 2013