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Cascade Locks looks at Oregon Pony museum

DESIGNS SHOW concepts for an Oregon Pony steam engine display building and an expanded Cascade Locks History Museum.

Rendering courtesy of Seder Architecture/Port of Cascade Locks
DESIGNS SHOW concepts for an Oregon Pony steam engine display building and an expanded Cascade Locks History Museum.

The historic Oregon Pony steam engine is destined for a new shelter and accompanying museum expansion, according to early plans by a Port of Cascade Locks committee.

The 155-year-old steam engine will not only get a safer home — better shielded from Cascade Locks’ persistent rain and wind — but one that will draw visitors with interpretive elements.

“It really is creating a lot of excitement and energy,” Port General Manager Paul Koch said of the project. He termed it an expanded “destination” for visitors at the port’s riverside Marine Park.

The port manages the Pony site for the Oregon Historical Society, and has an obligation to guard it from the elements. The 14-foot long train sits in an enclosure beside the Cascade Locks Historical Museum at 417 Portage Road.

Talks of relocating the Pony into a hermetically sealed chamber began last February when Union Pacific Railroad announced a $10,000 grant to help the port to carry out the job.

A committee of residents and port leaders has pooled concepts over the last few months. They also discussed expanding the existing museum and moving it to the pony’s new location — in essence, creating a historical complex.

A Portland architecture firm, Seder Architect and Design LLC, recently submitted early conceptual renderings based on the committee’s vision. Graphics show:

  • A new pavilion housing the Pony. It would be located along the Columbia River, near Thunder Island Brewing Co.’s existing building at 515 Portage Road. The building would sport interpretive displays, a glass viewing area, and space for public gatherings.
  • The port’s maintenance building would be renovated to become an expanded Cascade Locks Museum, with restroom and support for the pony building.
  • A parking lot to the north of Union Pacific’s train tracks.
  • An optional events and interpretive deck extending toward the river.

The location and details aren’t finalized, but Koch said the committee is considering that spot. The former museum would swap roles with the maintenance building at 511 Portage Road, given that scenario.

The committee will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Port House 3 Marine Park to discuss the new renderings and operational details of the new building, such as visiting hours, access, and management.

“I look forward to seeing everyone this coming Tuesday evening for the presentation and comments,” architect Mark Seder told port staff and commissioners in an email. He mentioned he will use the early rendering images and an “interactive computer model to assist and interact with the group.”

The Pony, built in the Civil War era, was the “first locomotive ever run over the first railroad ever built in the state of Oregon,” according to the Cascade Locks Historical Museum’s plaque.

Since 1970, the Port has taken care of the Oregon Pony. It sat under a basic roof until about the early 1980s, when the port placed it inside a climate-controlled exhibition chamber, which was meant to stave off vandals and protect the artifact from the Gorge’s often-punishing storms.



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