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Corvallis streetcar system

On December 17, 1889, a group of real estate developers, led by Zephen Job and Miles Wilkins, incorporated the Corvallis Street Railway Company. Within about six months, on June 19, 1890, a horsecar named Daisy began running north from Northwest 2nd Street and Madison Avenue, west on Northwest Monroe Avenue, then north on 11th into Job’s Addition. At the end of the line, riders enjoyed ice water in a comfortable waiting room. In addition, a car barn was erected on Northwest 14th near Polk.

In November, extensions to the Southern Pacific depot, on Southwest 6th Street and B Avenue, and the Oregon Pacific depot, on Southwest 9th Street and Washington Avenue, doubled the railway’s length to two miles. The fare was a nickel, and the horse-drawn streetcars operated hourly between seven in the morning and eight at night.

During the depression that followed the financial panic of 1893, the northern terminus was cut back to 2nd Street and Monroe Avenue in an ill-fated attempt to focus on travel between hotels and the train stations. Operations ceased not long after the car barn in Job’s Addition was pulled down in about 1896.

The railway never became a “motor line” as predicted by its manager, Ralston Cox. Perhaps frequent derailments caused the obsolete horsecars to fall from grace. At any rate, after crews removed the rails on February 10, 1900, an account in the Sunday Oregonian bid good riddance to a “dilapidated reminder of boom times.” A 1912 promise by the Southern Pacific Railroad to build a new trolley system in conjunction with the arrival of its Red Electric interurban service was not kept.

Written by:Richard Thompson

Further Reading:

Munford, Ken. "Courthouse Building Boom Bust by 1890s." Corvallis Gazette Times, Nov. 14, 1988.

Oregon Encyclopedia - Oregon History and Culture

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