If you go
What: “All Aboard! Railroads in the High Desert”
When: April 12 to July 27
Where: High Desert Museum, 59800 S. U.S. Highway 97, Bend
Cost: Included with museum admission, or $12 adults, $10 ages 65 and older, $7 ages 5-12; free ages 4 and younger
A model train blew its horn three times and pulled away from the station as it embarked on a 35-foot-long journey through a tunnel under a tall butte resembling those found in the Ochoco foothills. The train traveled across a trestle bridge that crosses deep river gorge and around two wide turns that crisscross a landscape of sand, rocks and juniper trees.
Redmond residents Frank and Anne Graham spent about 500 hours building the 9-foot-square diorama, which depicts the High Desert’s rolling landscape. They were asked to create it to illustrate some of the challenges railroad companies faced in the early 1900s as they worked to connect Shaniko and eventually Bend to the cross-country rail lines.
The diorama will be featured as part of the “All Aboard! Railroads in the High Desert” exhibit opening next week at the High Desert Museum. The exhibit looks at how trains made their way through the area and how they shaped its culture.
“Everybody loves trains,” said Margaret Lee, the High Desert Museum’s curator of Western history.
Running until the end of July, the train history exhibit will examine how having access to the rail lines changed the lives of people in Central Oregon and other parts of the High Desert. It will also examine the people who built the first rail lines, the tools they used and the challenges they faced as they cut the landscape the Grahams tried to emulate with their model train.