Established in 1868, Prineville is the oldest community in Central Oregon.
The first settlers in what was to become Crook County settled in the “Oh-cho-coe,” a Paiute word meaning “willows.” In 1882 the county separated from Wasco County, and it was named for General George Crook, a recognized Indian fighter.
When Barney Prine settled on the banks of the Crooked River, he built a blacksmith shop and a store-saloon. Prineville was the primary place of trade until 1911, when the Union Pacific and Oregon Trunk railways extended south from the Columbia River to Bend. In 1917, Prineville took action and voted to build their own railroad to join the Oregon Trunk Railways and Union Pacific north of Redmond. In the 1930s and 1940s the decision to build the railroad paid back the investment by shipping vast amounts of lumber over the rails. The City of Prineville still owns and operates the Railroad today.
Crook County has over 20,000 residents, with Prineville being the only incorporated city in Crook County having over 10,000. The growth rates are predicted to be as high as 5 percent in the future.
Private investment is revitalizing Central Oregon’s oldest town in the downtown core. Recently Powell Butte has been the home to active resort development. Eagle Crest, Inc., a division of Jeld-Wen Corp., has developed Brasada Ranch, a high-end resort, in south Crook County. Their initial sales event generated more than $60 million in gross sales revenues, reaching an all-time record for Central Oregon by a wide margin. Pahlisch Homes, a regional developer, has purchased 4,000 acres that sits next to Brasada Ranch. Prineville is now home to Apple and Facebook! These tech giants have built multiple data center here, with other large tech companies looking to build similar sites.
Longtime respected regional housing developers, such as Brooks Resources and Pahlisch Homes, have built beautiful neighborhoods, such as Iron Horse. These developers and builders have positioned their investments in Prineville to meet the perceived future need of new people moving into the area – retirees seeking the rural life and young families and workers seeking affordable homes.
In 2006-2007, the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce, the City of Prineville, and Crook County worked with EDCO (Economic Development for Central Oregon) and hired the Economic Development Manager for Prineville. Our current manager is Caroline Ervin. She recruits and retains new industry, as well as assists current businesses and industry with expansion. Caroline can be contacted at (541) 233-2015 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Industrial land is still plentiful in Crook County. There are a number of industrial parks with flexible lot sizes and access to city services. Prineville and Crook County also has an enterprise zone for qualifying businesses.
The largest private employer in Central Oregon, Les Schwab Tire Company, employs 425 at its facilities in Prineville. Other major employers are Contact Industries, Woodgrain Millwork, Pioneer Cut Stock, St. Charles Prinville, Ochoco National Forest, the BLM, Crook County, Crook County School District, Facebook, and Apple. Agriculture plays an important cultural and economic role in Crook County with agricultural commodity sales of $42 million.
Transportation infrastructure, such as the George Millican Road, provides another north-south corridor besides Highway 97 through Central Oregon, making Prineville more accessible in the region. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe and the Union Pacific jointly serve the city-owned railway. The City of Prineville’s freight depot is located on a 20-acre site adjacent to the City of Prineville railway track, three miles west of Prineville. The depot provides regional rail-to-truck service, offering transload, reload and storage services, as well as a truck-to-transfer point.