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As It Was: Railroad Offers New Route to Klamath Basin

Nearly four decades after completion of the transcontinental railroad, the Upper Klamath River Basin remained virtually untouched by modern commerce at the outset of the 20th century.

While automobiles were starting to appear in larger cities, Klamath Basin residents could not even catch a train without considerable effort.

A primitive railroad was built into the extreme southwestern corner of Klamath County in the late 1800s, but the line never reached Klamath Falls.  Travelers headed to Klamath Falls had to journey by stagecoach through dense stands of timber and around sprawling wetlands along the Klamath River.

Signs of change came in October 1907 when the Southern Pacific railroad announced it was opening a new route to Klamath Falls over its Weed, Calif., branch line.

The new railroad allowed travelers to ride in comfort to the Siskiyou County town of Bray.  From there, they could ride 37 miles by stagecoach through the mountains to Lower Klamath Lake, only 12 miles by steamboat to Klamath Falls.

A tourist could thus leave San Francisco about 4 p.m. one day and arrive in Klamath Falls by supper time the following day.

Source: "Opening New Route to Klamath Falls." Call Bulletin, 23 Oct. 1907 [San Francisco, Calif..], p. 16.

Todd Kepple has been a Klamath Basin resident since 1990. He was a reporter and editor the for the Herald and News from 1990 to 2005, and has been manager of the Klamath County Museum since 2005. He enjoys volunteering at Crater Lake National Park, the OC&E Woods Line State Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also a founding member of the Klamath Tree League.