Tuesdays in March resumes with Lecture Series

The People from our Past Series has been temporarily suspended for March due to unforeseen circumstance.

Bowman Museum's impromptu Tuesdays Lectures Series will be hosted by Steve Lent, historian at the Bowman Museum in Prineville. 246 North Main Street Prineville, Oregon 97754. This event is free and open to the public.

March 10 – Deschutes River Railroad War 

March 17 – The Rise of the Timber Industry in Central Oregon 

March 24 – The Rise of the Livestock Industry in Central Oregon


March 10 Lecture

Deschutes River Railroad War 1909-1911

This presentation provides a photo graphic history and narrative of the last great railroad war in the United States. In 1909 James J. Hill of the Great Northern railroad and Edward H. Harriman of the Northern Pacific Railroad decided to push their respective railroads into Central Oregon. Because of their huge egos they decided to stage a race with the spoils to go to the first railroad to arrive at Bend. The two railroads blasted their way up the Deschutes River from the Columbia. Each side frequently sabotaged the other as they raced construction up the canyon.

In a very expensive and wasteful effort the two railroads built parallel lines on each side of the Deschutes River until they reached Trout Creek. Hill’s Oregon Trunk line continued along the Deschutes to near Warm Springs then up Willow Creek to Madras. Harriman’s Deschutes Railroad went up Trout Creek to Gateway and then into Madras. The obstacle that eliminated joint railroads arriving into Bend was the Crooked River Gorge. Hill had obtained the right of way at the narrowest portion of the Crooked River Gorge and it was too cost prohibitive to build two massive bridges so it was a joint effort from Crooked River Gorge to Bend.

Steve Lent, historian at the Bowman Museum in Prineville, presents the tale of the Hill versus Harriman saga. Numerous vintage photos illustrate the expensive and hotly contested construction.


March 17 Lecture

The Rise of the Timber Industry in Central Oregon

Presented by Steve Lent, Bowman Museum Historian

The early settlement era of Central Oregon experienced an initial sawmill boom as homesteaders and early ranchers needed lumber to build homes. Most mills were set up to cater to local needs. Mills were either operated by steam or water power and had limited production capabilities. Hundreds of small mills became established throughout the region.

Big timber operations in the Midwest began to accumulate large timber holdings throughout Central Oregon by the turn of the 20th Century. Unfortunately there were limited opportunities to export milled lumber as transportation was mostly wagon traffic. The arrival of the railroads into Bend in 1911 led to large scale logging and milling operations in the region. Huge mills were built
in Bend on both sides of the Deschutes River with large corporations Brooks/Scanlon and Shevlin/Hixon becoming major lumber producers.

The economy of Central Oregon boomed with the arrival of the big mills and required a large labor force to maintain operations. Bend became a boom town as the mills became operational. Later other big mills came to Central Oregon and began operating in Prineville and Redmond as well as Gilchrist. For several decades the mill and timber operations were the base of local economy.
Eventually the timber industry began to fade in Central Oregon and has dwindled to only one mill operation continuing in the region.

Local historian Steve Lent from the Bowman Museum in Prineville has gathered together historic photos and provided a visual and narrative program on the rise of the timber industry and its boom years in Central Oregon. Several rare old photos of the logging and milling industry help illustrate the importance of the industry to the development of the region.


March 24 Lecture

The Rise of the Livestock Industry in Central Oregon

Presented by Steve Lent, Bowman Museum Historian

The settlement of Central Oregon was begun with the introduction of the livestock industry. Most of the earliest settlers came to the lush grasses and ranges of the region to raise cattle and sheep. Early communities developed in support of the livestock industry.

Bowman Museum historian Steve Lent will present a visual program showing early ranches and ranching operations of Central Oregon. Many rare photos will help illustrate the importance of the livestock industry in the region.

Central Oregon was late to be settled as limited mining activity did not occur in the region. Many travelers passing though the area recalled the lush grasslands that were ideal for livestock. Many of these early travelers were determined to bring livestock from the Willamette Valley to the relatively untapped ranges of Central Oregon.