The DeWitt Museum
The Sumpter Valley Railway (SVRy) was chartered in 1890 in Baker City and completed in 1910. The SVRy Passenger Station, commonly known as the Prairie City Depot, was constructed in 1910. It is a two story building of balloon frames construction, cruciform in plan, measuring 60 x 32 feet. The building has shiplap siding, jerkin headed cross-axial gable roofs, and bracketed, wraparound canopies which shelter the ground level doors of the east and west wings which contained freight storage and a passenger waiting room respectively.
The ground floor contains the waiting room, station agent's office, baggage and express room, and freight office. The depot building is the last remaining evidence of a large and active rail yard and industrial site containing stockyards, ore bins, a flour mill, four sets of rails and a large wye for turning the train.
The second floor of the depot provided living quarters for the Station Agent and today features antiques and memorabilia from the local area, arranged much as it might have appeared while the agent's family occupied the quarters.
Passenger service to Prairie City was abandoned in 1933 and the Depot closed. Various people lived in the Depot building until Julius and Hilda Olp purchased the building in the early 1940's. The Olp's lived there until they sold the building in October, 1973.
The Depot was nominated into the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and restored throught the efforts of Mrs. Babs Brainard and the Sumpter Valley Depot Restoration Committee. The museum moved into the building in 1983.
n 1984, the City of Prairie city assumed management of the depot building from Grant county and moved the DeWitt Museum collections to a permanent home in the depot.
Of special interest is the large collection of rocks and minerals donated to Prairie City by the DeWitt family. Family photo albums, collectibles, and mining artifacts reflective of life in Grant County at the turn of the 20th Century, exemplify this collection. The collections arranged and supplemented through the years by Mrs. Brainard's careful curating, tell the Grant County and Prairie City story.
Each exhibit area of the museum focuses on a specific topic or area of history.
The goal of the Depot Museum is to house Oregon's most significant collection of narrow gauge railroad artifacts and historic documents.
Artifacts in the depot's current collection include many photographs of life along the rail line, visual depictions of some of the spectacular wrecks on this steep and dangerous section of the railroad, various lanterns, lights, and physical artifacts collected along the line itself.
Documents of interest to historians and researchers may be accessed by special arrangement with the curator.
This page is dedicated to the memory of Babs Brainard who passed away in 2003 at the age of 90. Without her efforts and hard work, this Museum may have never become a reality.