Oregon Public Broadcasting

The Union Pacific Railroad Co. celebrated its 150th birthday at Union Station in Portland on Friday.

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Usually the sound of a train means you should be careful; one of Oregon's many freight trains is going over a crossing nearby. But this is the sound of a train simulation, a model engine parked outside Portland's Union station as part of Union Pacific's birthday celebrations.

Inside the station, booths displayed model trains and vintage prints, alongside brochures for modern, high-speed bullet trains. Mayor Sam Adams says Union Pacific is still crucial to Oregon's economy.

"In the last five years, this company has invested a half a billion dollars in its systems throughout Oregon. There are very few companies that have invested that much in improving their competitiveness in Oregon," Adams says.

Scott Moore with Union Pacific focused on the future of rail in Oregon. He says trains were "green" before it was trendy.

"It's interesting how 18th century technology of steel rail on steel wheel is the most environmentally friendly, and most efficient way to move freight, so we think our future is very bright," Moore says.

The Union Pacific Railroad company was formed when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway act in July of 1862.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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