The Mount Emily Shay steam engine has been loaded up in Prineville, ready for its move to a new owner. The engine, which has called Prineville home for some 30 years, will have new digs at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center.
Photos from the City of Prineville show the engine being loaded on a flatbed railcar on Dec. 19.
The Mount Emily Shay No. 1 locomotive was built roughly a century ago, according to the Oregon Historical Society (OHS). While there were nearly 3,000 manufactured, fewer than 115 still exist today. Even fewer are still operational.
According to the Oregon Rail Heritage Center, “Specialty locomotives like the Shay, which could operate on steep and rough track, were able to access timber not available by other means Shays were key to bringing logs to the mills and developing Oregon’s timber economy.”
OHS said the Mount Emily Shay was originally purchased by the Hofus Steel & Equipment Company of Seattle. After changing hands multiple times, it was retired in 1957 and donated to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) for use at its facility in Washington Park. When it couldn’t safely be transported to Washington Park, ownership was transferred to OHS in 1958.
The Mount Emily Shay then went on a long-term loan to the state of West Virginia in the 1970s. After being restored to working order and operated on a scenic railroad, it was recalled and ended up with the City of Prineville Railway in 1994.
The City of Prineville has housed and operated the Mount Emily Shay for excursions and fundraising programs, according to OHS. Prineville requested an end to the loan agreement and the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation was picked as the new owner on Sept. 1, 2022.
Once physically transferred, the locomotive requires a federally mandated inspection before it can be operated again, OHS said. It will be viewable to the public and used for excursions.