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Steam & Excursion > It's A Miracle That Some Steam Locomotives Were Photographed!


Date: 01/08/21 01:58
It's A Miracle That Some Steam Locomotives Were Photographed!
Author: LoggerHogger

By the 1930's when the first railfans began taking their cameras in search of rare and interesting steam motive power to record on film, the task of finding some of these locomotives was daunting to say the least.  My old friend, Al Farrow told me that he was greatly aided in his hunt for logging locomotives when he came across an old 1919 Timberman Directory that listed the lumber companies that had logging railroads.  By the time he got the book in the 1930's it was almost 20 years old so much of the information was out of date.  Still, it was a resource he could use to try and find these rarely seen locomotives.

Take this photo of Swan&McKay Logging Shay #1 the was captured by a Harold Hill (a Seattle-based railfan friend of Al's) in remote Stillwater, Washington in April, 1938.  Hill had to first, be dedicated enough to have heard of the logging line, then second he had to devote a day to travel to remote Stillwater and then search the brush for this 1913-built 2-truck Shay.  Given her condition when he found her, she clearly has been out of service for quite some time.  He was lucky she had not been scrapped before he got to her.

As it turned out, she was scrapped just after this photo was taken.  We only have this record of her because of the dedication of Harold Hill..

Martin



Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 01/08/21 02:24 by LoggerHogger.




Date: 01/08/21 07:10
Re: It's A Miracle That Some Steam Locomotives Were Photographed!
Author: TonyJ

I assume the initials on the tender are from a previous owner. Do you which one?
 



Date: 01/08/21 07:18
Re: It's A Miracle That Some Steam Locomotives Were Photographed!
Author: LoggerHogger

TonyJ Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I assume the initials on the tender are from a
> previous owner. Do you which one?
>  

Crookson Lumber Co. of Kelliher, MN.

Martin



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/08/21 07:18 by LoggerHogger.



Date: 01/08/21 08:51
Re: It's A Miracle That Some Steam Locomotives Were Photographed!
Author: wingomann

It goes to show how easy we have it nowadays.  Research for most of us is sitting in front of a computer or on our smartphone browsing the internet for info.  Gone are the days of having to go to the library or to county records to try finding info.  We also scope out places to search on Google Maps before going somewhere to do some poking around.  You really have to hand it to these guys for the effort they put in tracking down these remote rail operations. 
I remember in my early railfan days (late 1970's) of being very excited when I discovered CTC Board magazine.  All of a sudden I had a wealth of info of what was going on in the railroading world.  What we see on Trainorders in one day would have been a full magazine of what we got back then.  



Date: 01/08/21 09:15
Re: It's A Miracle That Some Steam Locomotives Were Photographed!
Author: LoggerHogger

Agreed Wingoman.  Back in the 1960's my sole source of info was Pacific News.  (I had not discovered Western Railroader yet).

Martin



Date: 01/08/21 14:00
Re: It's A Miracle That Some Steam Locomotives Were Photographed!
Author: Copy19

As I recall the old pulp paper Railroad Magazine used to carry a small feature every month on where to find active steam.

JB - Omaha



Date: 01/08/21 17:53
Re: It's A Miracle That Some Steam Locomotives Were Photographed!
Author: phthithu

I marvel at some of the photos of last runs from the pre-internet days and how folks got the information. I guess a lot of it was phone based as well as those magazines. 

wingomann Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It goes to show how easy we have it nowadays. 
> Research for most of us is sitting in front of a
> computer or on our smartphone browsing the
> internet for info.  Gone are the days of having
> to go to the library or to county records to try
> finding info.  We also scope out places to search
> on Google Maps before going somewhere to do some
> poking around.  You really have to hand it to
> these guys for the effort they put in tracking
> down these remote rail operations. 
> I remember in my early railfan days (late 1970's)
> of being very excited when I discovered CTC Board
> magazine.  All of a sudden I had a wealth of info
> of what was going on in the railroading world. 
> What we see on Trainorders in one day would have
> been a full magazine of what we got back then.  



Date: 01/09/21 03:34
Re: It's A Miracle That Some Steam Locomotives Were Photographed!
Author: PlyWoody

One of the problem finding branch and logging railroad was that most atlas of state maps would only show common-carrier railroads .  Rand McNally for example.  Only the Cram Atlas would show every private railroad and even if you can find some copies of these giant atlas, they are too pricey for most rail fan. Expect to pay half dozen C note if you find one.  One of the best Christmas gift I got was a Hammond Atlas but it also only showed common-carrier lines.  If you found a line not on the map it was a private railroad. 



Date: 01/09/21 10:06
Re: It's A Miracle That Some Steam Locomotives Were Photographed!
Author: sixbit

I worked for the US Forest Service back in the 1970's on the Stanislaus National Forest. This area included the logging lines of the Pickering, the Westside and the Empire City Ry. Down on the Groveland District there was also the Hetch Hetchy right of way. The Stanislaus NF bordered Yosemite National Park and our keys worked on their locks and vice versa. USFS had a lot of older maps showing their road system squirreled away in the files at the Supervisor's Offiice (SO) in Sonora. Sometimes when we were working on timber sales and reviewing road locations we'd find ourselves going back and checking the old RR grades as both the Pickering and Westside threw out a lot of one-season spurs to a Donkey set and landing.

While those maps were not as convenient as Google Earth, what was interesting was once we started our work, some of the older guys in the SO would tell us about the railroad logging activities and how to best follow the routes and alignment from those logging lines. The older guys also knew the good and bad aspects of the alignments of the railroads and even some of the single-seaon spurs and layout of the camps. The Stanislaus NF had some interesting soils (Mertens Mud Flow was one) and those soils were tough to use for roads when they were wet. When wet those soils had no "bottom".

One example of why you should follow the old RR right of was was out along the old Westside right of way alignment near Two Dog Pass. Our forest engineer wanted to run the Cottonwood Road (1N04) more along the old Westside ROW to avoid a fairly large area of the Mertens soils. It was a huge dust up between the Forest engineers and the Regional Office (RO) engineers (who rarely left their offices to see things on the grounf) about the alignment.

Well as you can imagine the road went where the RO wanted and we put in a deep, through-cut right through the nasty soils. The first winter at that cut the road turned into a bottomles mud hole you could sink a 4x4 in up to the doors in that muck. A D-8 went in their once and got stuck and had to be pulled out! Loaded log trucks coming down after a few rains would just creep through there, else they'd slide around and hit one side or the other of the cut.

After a couple years of that and when we were allowed to pave the road, our forest engineer designed a "bridge" of sorts to solve the problem in that cut. There's at least a haf dozen feet of rock roadbed dropped in their and he had the contractor put in about 3' of asphalt over the top. It has been a long, long, time since the RO won that argument and that piece of road at Two Dog Pass is still a problem! That piee of road settles, pavement shifts, cracks and so on.

If we'd only been allowed to follow the common sense alignment of the old Hetch Hetchy & Yosemite Valley (aka Westside) we could have saved a lot of money, time and headaches. Those old maps and those old railroad logging alignments were a great source of information. I suppose they are now stored somewhere in the Forest archives and hopefully weren't dumped.

John Mills



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