A new exhibit has opened at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center. This exhibit chronicles the contributions of the Greek immigrant community to the development of the railroads in the Pacific Northwest. The first job for many Greek immigrants who came west was working on the railroad. While for some it remained their permanent job, others eventually moved into town and cities throughout the Northwest and became shopkeepers and entrepreneurs. As early as 1907, it was estimated that there were between 30,000 and 40,000 Greek laborers hired to work on the railroads, mines, mills and forests of the American West. In this new exhibit we honor the rich history and the memory of those workers who helped build the railroads of America.
The 1910 United States Census for Oregon listed 3,448 Greeks with 2,116 of those working on the railroads. Many Greek immigrants worked for the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railroad (SP&S).
Today the legacy of the Greek Railroad worker of the early 1900’s is found in town and cities throughout the Northwest. In the years before World War I, many of these immigrants left the railroads and moved to cities where they became United States citizens.