COUNTIES GOING TO END OF LINE ON RAILROAD TALKS

March 13, 2002 12:00 am
SCENIC LINE: The abandoned Idaho Northern Railroad line runs for many miles along the Wallowa River. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).
SCENIC LINE: The abandoned Idaho Northern Railroad line runs for many miles along the Wallowa River. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).

ENTERPRISE Union and Wallowa counties will make one last try to buy at least a part of a railroad in the two counties.

After meeting jointly in executive (closed) session Tuesday, the two county commissions decided to ask the Rio Grande Railroad of Fort Worth, Texas, owner of the Idaho Northern and Pacific Railway, to continue negotiating a purchase with the counties.

The commissioners also asked Wallowa County Commissioner Ben Boswell to explore forming a public-private authority made up of residents from the two counties to be the official purchaser and operator of the railroad.

The 2001 Oregon Legislature set aside $2 million in lottery bond money to be used to purchase the railroad. Sufficient federal funds are not likely to be available this year.

The railroad line from Elgin to Joseph was abandoned about seven years ago.