The Oregon Electrics began providing passenger service to Salem in 1907, and Jim Hill of the Great Northern Railway purchased the line in 1910. The line opened to Albany on July 4, 1912 and on October 15, 1912, service began to Eugene.
Southern Pacific, which virtually controlled steam lines up and down the Willamette Valley and South to California, decided to electrify some of their steam lines to give the Oregon Electric some competition. Service from Portland on the Red Electrics was inaugurated on January 17, 1914.
The Harriman Group, which owned Southern Pacific, operated the Red Electrics, with their distinctive round windows. These trains served communities surrounding Portland with two main lines, making the Yamhill or McMinnville Loop south and west from Portland’s Union Station. The line went south from Union Station on Fourth Street to Jefferson Street where it split into two lines. Both lines met at St. Joseph, just north of McMinnville.
The West Side Local continued through Portland’s West Hills along present-day Barbur Boulevard through Burlingame to Bertha (now Hillsdale) to Beaverton, Hillsboro and Forest Grove, then south to McMinnville. The East Side Local followed the Willamette River to Oswego, then west to Tualatin, Sherwood, Newberg and McMinnville.