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Steam & Excursion > The Rise And Fall Of an Oregon Logger - Westfir Lumber


Date: 08/14/11 08:47
The Rise And Fall Of an Oregon Logger - Westfir Lumber
Author: LoggerHogger

I took advantage of some nice Oregon summer weather yesterday and took a trip to visit the right-of-way and remnants of one of Oregon's great but little known logging railroads, The Westfir Lumber Co. of Westfir, OR.

In this photo essay I will give you an idea what made this company special.

Started as a result of the SP building the Natron Cut-off over the Cascades in Oregon, the Western Lumber Co. was formed in the mid-1920's to log the SP right-of-way between Oakridge, OR and Crescent Lake, OR.

The lumber company logged the trees and left them along the Right-of-way until the track was built and they could be taken out. Next came the huge North Fork Timber Sale that gave the Western Logging Company it's supply of logs for decades to come.

A mill site was chosen on the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River and name Westfir. A depot was built and a connection to the SP allowed the delivery of logging railroad equipment on the South side of the river while accessing the Mill on the North side of the river so that outbound lumber shipments could be made.

In the first view we see the driving of the Golden Spike at Oakridge that made all this possible. The second view shows the SP depot at Westfir. The smoke in the bacground is from the Westfir Lumber Co. mill. The 3rd view shows the mill itself.

Martin



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/14/11 14:05 by LoggerHogger.








Date: 08/14/11 08:58
Re: The Rise And Fall Of an Oregon Logger - Westfir Lum
Author: LoggerHogger

The logging line for the Western Lumber Company had several locomotives over the years. The last in service are the 3 depicted here.

2-8-2T #10 was built new for the company in 1928 and served her entire live on this railroad, first for the Western Lumber Co., then for the Westfir Lumber Co., and finally for the Ed Hines Lumber Co. In the bacgound is the Office Bridge that spans the river from the office, railroad town side (south) to the mill and SP side (north). The office bridge remains today and can be driven through.

2-6-2 #12 was built new for the California & Oregon Lumber Co. on the Southern Oregon coast in 1922 and was bought used by the Western Lumber Co. in 1929 to replace an old 4-6-0 that has served the logging company since the beginning.

Also purchased used was a big 3-truck Willamette geared locomotive. Built as c/n 21 for the Anderson-Middleton Lumber Co. at Cottage Grove, OR, the geared engine joined the ranks of the Westfir Lumber Co. in the 1930's.

The engines were all in service on the Westfir Lumber Co. until 1951 when the logging line was pulled.

Martin



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/14/11 14:04 by LoggerHogger.








Date: 08/14/11 09:12
Re: The Rise And Fall Of an Oregon Logger - Westfir Lum
Author: LoggerHogger

The first view shows another view of the SP depot at Westfir.

One of the unique features of the Westfir Logging railroad was the incline built 9 miles up the line to access the Huckleberry Flats area above the river canyon known as Box Canyon.

The incline can be hiked and is worth the trip. She is 67-degrees on average from bottom to top. Along the route you will still see ties and rail and some rollers are in place. On top you can see the sled for the hoist engine and one of Oregon's last railroad trestles still standing.

The incline is marked on the roadway up the canyon that is built on the old logging railroad right-of-way. The bottom view is looking up the incline as she looks today.

Martin



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/14/11 14:07 by LoggerHogger.








Date: 08/14/11 09:18
Re: The Rise And Fall Of an Oregon Logger - Westfir Lum
Author: Derecho

How fortuitous for us that an SP cab-forward just so happened to be walking by the background in the shot of Shay #2!



Date: 08/14/11 09:21
Re: The Rise And Fall Of an Oregon Logger - Westfir Lum
Author: LoggerHogger

Not too many photos have been found of this wonderful operation because of it's remoteness in the river canyon that it worked.

Fortunately Bert Ward did make it up the line a couple times and captured some of the great images you see here.

Martin








Date: 08/14/11 09:28
Re: The Rise And Fall Of an Oregon Logger - Westfir Lum
Author: LoggerHogger

All good things come to an end and that was the same for he Westfir Lumber Co. The logging railroad was replaced by trucks in 1950 and the mill lasted until 1979 when it was consumed by fire as seen in these photos.

The roadbed survives as the Apherdiheidi Scenic roadway. The incline is still there and is a good hike. A few artifacts of the logging railroad survive. Willamette #2 went on to serve the Medco logging railroad in Medford, OR after the Westfir line was pulled. In 1962 it was placed on display at Railroad Park south of Dunsmuir, CA.

Unfortunately the 2 Baldwin Prairies were cut up at Westfir in 1950 and only their builders plates remain.

The "Office Bridge" still stands and you can drive across it to see the old mill site that is now a park. This is the longest covered bridge in Oregon. Up on the hill above is the site of the Westfir depot. The company office is on the south side of the bridge on the old rail line. It now is a bed and breakfast. A number of the old company house still remain.

This was a great logger while she lasted.

Martin



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/14/11 11:30 by LoggerHogger.








Date: 08/14/11 12:17
Re: The Rise And Fall Of an Oregon Logger - Westfir Lum
Author: E25

Great post, Martin!

Thanks for taking the time to share your photos and knowledge of the Westfir area.

when I was about 12 (...circa 1956), I recall that my parents took me on a short side-trip into Westfir on our way up to Odell Lake for a family reunion and some fishing. I have stopped by there several times since during my later years while railfanning the Willamette Pass area and have always been intrigued by the place. I never knew much about the private logging railroad that was once part of the operation.

Bert Ward's shot of of the returning 2-6-2 with the Oakridge-bound SP Cab Forward in the background is really special.

Best regards,

-- Greg



Date: 08/14/11 12:25
Re: The Rise And Fall Of an Oregon Logger - Westfir Lum
Author: TCnR

Great stuff, as usual. Classic photos that I don't remember seeing before, but it would be ok to see them again anyways. It would be interesting to check out the incline. There was a major sized one involved with the Yosemite Valley RR as well.

Here's another site with Westfir photos and history:
http://spcascades.railfan.net/westernLumberCo.html



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/14/11 12:27 by TCnR.



Date: 08/14/11 13:52
Re: The Rise And Fall Of an Oregon Logger - Westfir Lum
Author: patd3985

Derecho Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> How fortuitous for us that an SP cab-forward just
> so happened to be walking by the background in the
> shot of Shay #2!


Willamette #2!



Date: 08/14/11 21:05
Re: The Rise And Fall Of an Oregon Logger - Westfir Lum
Author: Southern-Pacific-fan

I grew up in the house directly in line with the dam, Dad started as a fireman in the mill powerhouse. by the time the mill closed, he was lead operator. I think he shut the powerhouse down as it`s last shift under the Edward Hines name. 30+
years later the smell of wet bark and fresh sawn wood take me back home.

Thank you Martin for posting these pics and story



Date: 08/15/11 08:18
Re: The Rise And Fall Of an Oregon Logger - Westfir Lum
Author: WP-M2051

The buckethead hat in the first photo is very nice.



Date: 08/15/11 22:30
Re: The Rise And Fall Of an Oregon Logger - Westfir Lum
Author: spdaylight

0307 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The buckethead hat in the first photo is very
> nice.

Ha ha . . . you made me laugh out loud!!

Actually the first photo looks more like a wedding to me . . . with the preacher, bride, bridesmaids to her left and an all girls band on the left side of the photo . . maybe they hired the preacher for a 'two-fer' - bless the railroad and marry the couple!!



Date: 08/16/11 08:36
Re: The Rise And Fall Of an Oregon Logger - Westfir Lum
Author: funnelfan

What was the grade of the incline? I'm guessing the Willamette was used above the incline and the six coupled engines were used to forward the logs to the mill.

Ted Curphey
Cheney, WA



Date: 08/16/11 10:08
Re: The Rise And Fall Of an Oregon Logger - Westfir Lum
Author: LoggerHogger

Ted the grade was 67-degrees. Both the Willamette and the 2-6-2T were used above the incline until it was retired in 1937.

Martin



Date: 08/16/11 15:06
Re: The Rise And Fall Of an Oregon Logger - Westfir Lum
Author: funnelfan

Looking at your photo of the sign again, I was just barely able to read it. They state 72% for the grade. They also mentioned that there were marks on the rocks in or next to the river from runaway log cars. Did you happen to look for any of those?

Ted Curphey
Cheney, WA



Date: 08/16/11 15:20
Re: The Rise And Fall Of an Oregon Logger - Westfir Lum
Author: LoggerHogger

The maximum grade was 72%, the average grade was 67%!

You can see the marks on the rocks and in low water years you can see some car trucks in the river where they landed. Quite a nice place to visit.

Martin



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