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Pacific and Eastern Railroad arrives in Butte Falls

On March 11, 1911, the first train ran over tracks of the Pacific & Eastern Railroad from Medford to Butte Falls. It had been a long time coming.

In 1905, the Medford and Crater Lake Railroad tracks got as far as Eagle Point but ran into financial problems and only operated sporadically. Huge timber reserves above Butte Falls reawakened interest in the line, which was built by J.J. Hill of the Great Northern in 1910.

For $1 roundtrip, people could escape the heat of the valley in the beautiful forests around Butte Falls. Logs and lumber, fruit and grain were hauled to the Southern Pacific mainline in Medford and then shipped around the world.

In 1912, 45 boxes of Bosc pears from the Hanley orchard on Little Butte Creek were ordered by King George of England. Folks who lived along the railroad rode handcars or mail cars on the tracks to get to dances or neighbors.

The Pacific & Eastern Railway changed hands several times and eventually became the Medford Corporation’s logging railroad. The last trains ran in 1962.

As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at asitwas.org.

First train to Butte Falls, Nov. 15, 1910. SOHS photo