Mitchell to Prineville, Oregon. (49 mi.) Mile 4034More history in PrinevilleWe left the fly off the tent last night to enjoy the stars. Just before dawn, Jupiter and Venus shown exceptionally bright, joining the nearly full moon over the pink bluffs above our camp site.We were on the road feeling rested and strong by 7:00 am. We have pedaled through some incredibly beautiful country, and today was no exception. The air was cool and the morning sun cast a golden light as we climbed out of the sagebrush and juniper into forests of bunch grass and Ponderosa pine, then zoomed back down another long descent to sagebrush again.Ponderosa pine forest near Ochoco DivideWe made it another short mileage day and decided to enjoy a motel in Prineville, the biggest town in central Oregon at the turn of the century. At that time, the citizens of Prineville decided they needed a railroad. The City of Prineville Railway, all 19 miles of it connecting the town to the main line, was completed by 1918.Galloping Gertie of the Prineville RailwayThe first train, referred to as Galloping Gertie, ran past my great-
grandparents' ranch between Prineville and Redmond. They would persuade the conductor to let them off near their house. This was my grandmother's home when she met my grandfather, the same one who grew up in Scott City, KS, and whose boyhood home I stayed in when we passed through on our bikes July 2. My grandfather had moved west, and on July 1, 1923, he boarded Galloping Gertie in Prineville and rode it to my grandmother's home where they were married. They returned to Prineville on this train to begin their honeymoon. The City of Prineville Railway is still the only city owned railway in the U.S.
Our bicycle trip has been an unfolding east to west history lesson. From the first English settlement in tidewater Virginia, through Civil War battlefields, Midwest river towns along the Mississippi and Ohio, sites of Indian conflict on the Plains, Wild West boom towns, the formidable Rockies, and the terminus of the Oregon Trail, this history takes on a unique perspective from a bicycle.