© 2024 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
Listen | Discover | Engage a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

As It Was: First Train Reaches Klamath Falls in 1909

Excitement spread through Klamath Falls, Ore., as the first train connecting it with the outside world neared town.

It was May 13, 1909, the tracks still a mile and a half south of Klamath Falls, but anxious residents peered through telescopes to watch for the train’s approach.

Seven days later, Klamath Falls suspended all business and schools as the entire town turned out to greet the arrival of the first passenger train.  More than 100 people had taken the river steamer Klamath the previous day to a railway terminal where they boarded the train for its grand entry into Klamath Falls.

The city didn’t hold an official Railroad Day until June 15.  Two special trains arrived from the San Francisco Bay Area, some 3,000 people devoured 21 quarters of barbecued beef, attended a water carnival and were entertained by Indians in war dress, cowboys in typical costume, and a parade of stage coaches, wagon trains, and automobiles.

Train travel replaced stage coach and water transportation, just as present-day auto and air travel would later reduce dependence on the railroad.

Source: "Railroad into Klamath." Klamath Echoes, vol. 16, pp. 55-59, klamathcountyhistoricalsociety.org/images/Echoes/Klamath-Echoes-No.-16---Railroads.pdf. Accessed 22 Jan. 2019.

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.