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Union Pacific Railroad

Union Pacific Railroad

A Union Pacific freight in the Blue Mountains. John Henderson photo, Jeff Moore collection.


Of all the railroads serving Oregon's High Desert country, the Union Pacific has arguably had the biggest impact on the region. The Congress of the United States created the UP in 1862 and tasked the company with constructing the eastern portion of the Transcontinental Railroad. Construction started in Nebraska in 1865, and the westward building rails of the UP met the eastward building rails of the Central Pacific Railroad at Promontory Summit, Utah, on 10 May 1869.

Following the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad the UP set about to expand its system. One of these expansions took the rails of the UP into the Oregon country over a subsidiary known as the Oregon Short Line. The UP presence in central and eastern Oregon can be broken down into the mainline and the various branchlines. The history of each part of the system are outlined in the pages below.

On 11 September 1996 UP dramatically expanded its operations all across the west when it completed purchasing the Southern Pacific Railroad. Please see that page of this website for information on those lines since the UP assumed control.

Union Pacific #2171 at Huntington, Oregon, in May 1954. Guy Dunscomb photo, Jeff Moore collection.

Union Pacific 2-8-0 #332 typical of the smaller power used on branchlines. Jeff Moore collection.

Union Pacific 4-12-2 #901 is typical of the larger UP mainline power. Jeff Moore collection.

Union Pacific's impressive depot in La Grande. John Henderson photo, Jeff Moore collection.

Union Pacific #3516 working as a helper in country typical of eastern Oregon. Jeff Moore collection.

A Union Pacific rotary on display at Hinkle, Oregon. John Henderson photo, Jeff Moore collection.

A westbound stack train a few miles out of Huntington, Oregon, in 2014. Jeff Moore photo.

CSX #907 leading a UP freight at Ensina on 26 April 2021. Matt C. Batryn-Rodriguez photo.

Segments of the Union Pacific in Eastern Oregon

Mainline- Oregon Short Line/Oregon Railway & Navigation Company

Bend Branch

Shaniko branch

Condon branch

Heppner branch

Umatilla branch

Pilot Rock branch

Weston & Athena branches

Joseph branch

Homestead branch

Burns and Brogan branches

Homedale/Marsing branch (South Side Line)

Photos of the Union Pacific in Eastern Oregon

Building the Crane Branch

Heppner Branch photos by Marc Entze

Burns Branch photos by Wayne Monger

Mainline Photos

Condon Local in January 1987

Joseph Branch photos by John Henderson

Joseph Branch photos by Wayne Monger



"Union Pacific Northwest". Jeff Asay, Union Pacific Historical Society, 2014.

"Across the Columbia Plain: Railroad Expansion in the Interior Northwest, 1885-1893". Peter J. Lewty, Washington State University Press, 1995.

"Main Streets of the Northwest: Rails from the Rockies to the Pacific". T.O. Repp, Trans-Anglo Books, 1989.

"Stations West, The Story of the Oregon Railways". Edwin D. Culp, Caxton Printers, 1972.

"Shaniko: From Wood Capital to Ghost Town". Helen Guyton Rees, Binford & Mort, 1982.

"To the Columbia Gateway: The Oregon Railway and the Northern Pacific, 1879-1884". Peter J. Lewty, Washington State University Press, 1987.

"When the Railroad Leaves Town: American Communities in the Age of Rail Line Abandonment, Volume 2". Joseph P. Schwieterman, Truman State University Press, 2004.


"Condon Kinzua & Southern, Oregon's now-abandoned lumber-hauling shortline" by Michael R. Polk, November 1978 Pacific RailNews.

News Articles from the following:

Pacific RailNews

More on the Web

Union Pacific's Corporate Homepage

UP Condon Branch Some contemporary picture of the remnants of Union Pacific's Condon branch on Brian McCamish's Abandoned Railroads homepage.

Dan Schwanz's Northwest Trains Some fine photography of the region, with many links to other sites.