Mount Emily Shay Centennial Steam Locomotive Leaving Prineville City Railroad for New Home in Portland


The railway manager is ‘very excited’ to see it move to the site with more public use

PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) — The Oregon Historical Society and the Oregon Railroad Heritage Foundation announced on Friday the permanent transfer of the Mount Emily Shay No. 1 steam locomotive from the Prineville City Railroad to the Portland Foundation.

The Mount Emily Shay was manufactured at the Lima Locomotive Works in Ohio in the 1920s. Shays are gear-driven steam locomotives, specially adapted for the mining and logging industries. While nearly 3,000 Shays were made, only around 115 still exist today; even fewer are still operational.

The Mount Emily Shay was originally purchased by Hofus Steel & Equipment Company of Seattle, then sold to the Independence Logging Company of Independence, Washington. It was eventually sold and named after the Mount Emily Lumber Company, located in the eastern Oregon town of La Grande.

The Mount Emily Shay was owned and operated by the company until it was retired in 1957 and given to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) for use at its Washington Park facility. When it could not be transported safely to Washington Park, ownership was transferred to OHS in 1958.

The Mount Emily Shay was on long-term loan to the State of West Virginia beginning in the 1970s. The borrower restored the engine to working order (twice – it was damaged once due to a fire) and the locomotive was operated on the Cass Scenic Railroad.

In the mid-1990s, OHS, with the guidance, expertise and help of train enthusiast Martin E. Hansen, recalled the locomotive from West Virginia to be used to educate and delight voters across the country. ‘Oregon.

Of several choices, the Prineville City Railroad was chosen as the new borrower/custodian/operator of Mount Emily Shay. From its return from West Virginia in 1994 to the present day, the City of Prineville has hosted and operated the Mount Emily Shay for field trips and fundraising programs.

The Town of Prineville requested an end to the loan agreement, and since OHS is not equipped to house or operate a locomotive, the organization sought a new steward. A request for proposals was issued in April and the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation was selected on Wednesday to be the new owner of Mount Emily Shay.

Prineville Railway City General Manager Matt Wiederholt provided this context to NewsChannel 21 regarding the ongoing move:

“The decision not to renew the operating agreement had nothing to do with the ability to pay for the operation of the locomotive. The decision was mutual between the Oregon Historical Society and the City of Prineville.

“When the City of Prineville decided to halt run operations with the closure of the Crooked River Dinner Train and focus on freight hauling in 2009, there was no room for a steam engine with our operation here.

“We (the COPR and OHS) have made great efforts and worked together to find private and corporate sponsors to continue the SHAY program in Prineville. Unfortunately, there was little interest in ticket sales or sponsorship when offered Essentially, we found this wonderful, rare artifact tucked away in our shop with no public use or enjoyment.

“Therefore, when making the decision, the city felt that we could no longer do the locomotive justice by keeping it here and only running it once or maybe twice a year. I am very happy to see this wonderful artifact go to the Heritage Foundation, where potentially 40,000 people a year will be able to see the locomotive in motion.

“Additionally, SHAY #1 will be part of the wonderful education and hands-on environment that the foundation provides. That kind of exposure and environment would have been difficult to provide in Prineville,” Wiederholt said.

Once physically transferred, the locomotive requires a federally mandated inspection before it can be used again. ORHF plans to use the Mount Emily Shay to organize weekend vacations and excursions between their museum location near OMSI and Oaks Amusement Park and back. Keep an eye on their website for updates!

OHS Museum Deputy Director Nicole Yasuhara said of the transfer, “The Oregon Historical Society sincerely appreciates the support of the City of Prineville in the stewardship and operation of Mount Emily Shay for decades. We are delighted that the Mount Emily Shay has a new permanent home in Oregon Railroad Heritage Centerwhere it will be visible and used for excursions, balancing preservation and access to this important piece of Oregon history.

“Mount Emily Shay will allow the Oregon Rail Heritage Center to show the public the important role logging railroads played in the development of the lumber industry in Oregon,” said Roy Hemmingway, president of the Oregon Rail Heritage Center. ORHF. “Specialized locomotives like the Shay, which could run on steep and rough tracks, could access timber not available by other means. Oregon”,

About the Oregon Historical Society

For more than a century, the Oregon Historical Society has served as the collective memory of the state, preserving an extensive collection of artifacts, photographs, maps, manuscripts, books, films, and oral histories. Our research library, museum, digital platforms and website (, educational programming, and historical journal make Oregon history open and accessible to everyone. We exist because history is powerful and because a history as deep and rich as that of Oregon cannot be contained in a single story or a single point of view.

About the Oregon Railroad Heritage Center (ORHC)

The Oregon Rail Heritage Center is an operating railroad museum in Portland, Oregon that opened to the public on September 22, 2012. The museum houses three steam locomotives owned by the City of Portland. Of the museum’s three steam locomotives – Southern Pacific 4449; Spokane, Portland and Seattle 700; and Oregon Railroad & Navigation Co. 197 – the first two are restored and serviceable. Portland is the only city in the United States to have two operational steam locomotives. These magnificent steam engines are in the Center for all to see. Visitors are invited to explore the Center and meet the volunteers who keep these engines in top condition. General admission is free to the public during normal opening hours. The project to create the Center was led by the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation.

About the Oregon Railroad Heritage Foundation (ORHF)

The Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation is a registered non-profit organization established in 2002 and based in Portland, Oregon. Comprised of several all-volunteer groups dedicated to the maintenance of vintage railway equipment, the ORHF’s mission is “to ensure the preservation, operation and public enjoyment of locomotives, railway equipment and Portland’s historic artifacts, and to educate the public about Oregon’s richness and diversity. the history of the railway.


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