Lineside Legacy - September, 2002

Northern Counties Logging Interpretive Association


THE NORTHERN COUNTIES Logging Interpretive Association (NCLIA), a non-profit auxiliary of the California State Park System, has been working since 1977 to tell the story of redwood logging and railroading as it existed along California's North Coast 100 years ago. At the Northern Counties Logging Museum, located in Eureka, California, at the Fort Humboldt State Historic Park, the NCLIA helps to maintain a small collection of steam-powered logging and railroad equipment which is displayed and occasionally operated for the public. In addition, the group maintains two small logging steamers which have been fully restored and are fired up each month to give short rides on the museum grounds. But space at Fort Humboldt is limited, and over the years the NCLIA has acquired many larger artifacts - including several steam locomotives - which are simply too big to be properly displayed (much less operated) at Fort Humboldt. As a result, the NCLIA's long-term goal is to create a logging technology museum to exhibit these artifacts, and to establish a steam-powered tourist railroad running along the shores of Humboldt Bay.

The logging exhibits at Fort Humboldt date back to 1962, although the NCLIA didn't come into the picture until the late 1970s. The organization's first accomplishment was rebuilding a small vertical boiler donkey engine in 1975; after that, their attention turned to the restoration of No.1, a 12-ton 0-4-0 logging engine built by Marshutz & Cantrell (at the National Iron Works in San Francisco) for the Bear Harbor Lumber Company in 1892. This unique "Gypsy-type" engine (which also carries the name Gypsy) is equipped with a bull gear and steam-powered winch on the pilot, and carries wood and water in a tank behind the large, open cab.

No.1's first assignment at Bear Harbor Lumber was hauling tanbark over the company's two-mile railroad to the Bear Harbor wharf, which it did for many years. In later years the lumber company expanded its trackage and eventually reorganized as the Bear Harbor & Eel River Railroad, and then became the Southern Humboldt Lumber Company shortly after the turn of the century. The Gypsy was to be used at a new sawmill being constructed by Southern Humboldt but, unfortunately, the mill was never completed and the engine was stored inside a shed that eventually collapsed around it. In 1962, the 0-4-0 was recognized as being an important part of the early lumbering industry of Humboldt County and was subsequently donated to the State of California. But by then, the locomotive was missing many parts and was in derelict condition.

Fortunately Gypsy caught the attention of NCLIA members, and beginning in 1979 the 0-4-0 was completely overhauled, which included fabricating many new parts and repairing the boiler. Once it was certified for operation, the restored Gypsy debuted at the California State Railroad Museum's Railfair 1981, and subsequently operated at both Railfair '91 and '99.

A similar Gypsy-type locomotive, 0-4-0 Fauk of 1882, was fully restored by the NCLIA in the early 1980s and first ran for the public during Expo '86 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Also a product of Marshutz & Cantrell, Fauk is smaller than the Bear Harbor engine (it weighs in at just ten tons) but has a large enclosed wooden cab as opposed to No. 1's open-air design.

The Fauk originally worked for the Dolly Varden Mill in Arcata, Humboldt County, and then for the Elk River Mill & Lumber Company at Fauk, California, beginning in 1886. As its owner acquired larger locomotives, the 0-4-0 was relegated to switching duties and then retired for good in 1927. A reprieve of sorts came in 1936, when the engine was steamed up for Eureka, California's Fourth of July parade (it operated over the city's streetcar tracks) and ultimately wound up on display at Fort Humboldt.

The restoration of Fauk was extensive; the locomotive was in such poor condition that it had to be dismantled down to the frame, which needed straightening. And once the job was under way, NCLIA volunteers discovered that the boiler had deteriorated to the point that it required replacement, and an entirely new cab had to be constructed as well. Now in top operating condition, the Fauk is used frequently to give rides on the short stretch of track on the museum grounds at Fort Humboldt.

The next project that the NCLIA will undertake is the restoration of Pacific Lumber Company 2-6-2 No.29, a 1910 Baldwin. A good representative of turn-ofthe-century logging steam technology, No.29 worked all of its life in the woods around Scotia, California, first hauling Douglas fir and redwood from the woods to the mill at Pacific Lumber's Freshwater operation, and later serving as the Scotia yard switcher. It was retired in 1961 not long after receiving a complete overhaul, and for years sat silent in a roundhouse stall as the backup engine to Pacific Lumber's fleet of diesels. No.29 has been under steam just 30 days since its last rebuild, and is in remarkably good condition, perhaps due to the fact that it was stored inside PALCo's enginehouse until it was donated to the NCLIA in 1986. When the 2-6-2 is returned to service, the NCLIA hopes to use it to power tourist trains on their proposed Humboldt Bay Scenic Railroad between South Fork and Samoa, which is in close proximity to No.29's old stomping grounds at Scotia. A 1910 coach has been donated by the city of Eureka for use in this project.

There are many other steam locomotives owned by NCLIA; all are good representatives of the different types that were purchased and used by California logging roads between 1890 and 1930.

One gem in the collection is former Arcata & Mad River two-truck Shay No.7, which was built for the Lamson Logging Company in 1918. It went to the A&M in 1942, and after retirement was presented to the city of Eureka for display. Briefly reactivated, the little Shay pulled tourist trains over the "Annie & Mary" from 1969 to 1971, and then sat idle until the city donated it to the NCLIA in 1986. To date some restoration work has been done towards returning No. 7 to service.

Another Shay owned by the NCLIA is Hammond Lumber Company No.33, a 90ton three-truck model built by Lima in 1922. After many years logging the hills around Humboldt County, it changed hands in 1944 and wound up working for Pickering Lumber Corporation at Standard, California, where it last steamed in November 1966. Some time later it was purchased by Glen Bell for display at his Westside & Cherry Valley tourist operation, but since the Shay is standard gauge (and the WS&CV was narrow gauge), it was eventually declared surplus and sold to the NCLIA in 1980.

Mikado No. 15 is also a veteran of the Hammond Lumber Company and is the largest locomotive in the collection. The 2-8-2, which originally carried the number 4, was built in 1916 for the Humbird Lumber Company of Sandpoint, Idaho, and is a "stock" 90-ton Baldwin logging Mikado. The engine later worked for the Mason County Logging Company before being sold to Hammond Lumber and being moved to Samoa, California, in 1941. Like Shay No.7, after retirement No. 15 was given to the city of Eureka for display and was subsequently donated to the NCLIA in 1979.

Looking somewhat worse for wear is No.2, a 24-ton 2-4-2T which was purchased from Baldwin in 1898 by the Bear Harbor Lumber Company as their second locomotive (the first being the Gypsy). The little engine ran for just eight years before it was set aside. It is unfortunately in very poor condition today, due to the fact that it sat unprotected for many decades prior to being donated to the NCLIA in 1979.

It should be noted that there is a Heisler - of sorts - in the NCLIA collection. Mutual Plywood Company No.54 started life in 1927 as a 24-ton, two-truck Heisler. After a long career with the Elk River Mill & Lumber Company, it was sold to a scrap dealer who cut up the boiler, but sold the frame and wheels to Mutual Plywood, which built a new carbody and installed a Murphy diesel engine to drive its wheels. This unique hybrid was displayed for a while at the Alton & Pacific tourist railroad of Alton, California (now defunct) before coming to the NCLIA in 1991.

Currently, all of the locomotives in the NCLIA collation (with the exception of the Gypsy and Fauk) are stored at a lumber yard owned by Simpson Timber, which at this time is off-limits to the general public. All will find a new home, however, when the NCLIA's proposed Redwood Empire Timber Technology Museum becomes a reality. While this project is still a long way from completion, for now you can enjoy the NCLIA's logging displays at Fort Humboldt State Park and take a ride behind one of their Gypsy locomotives on selected dates during the summer months. It should be noted that the railroad equipment is just one facet of the NCLIA; the group has amassed an extensive collection of logging tools and machinery, including several steam donkey engines and a complete and working steam-powered sawmill.

For more information about the NCLIA and its displays at Fort Humboldt, or if you wish make a donation towards the restoration of Pacific Lumber No.29, write the NCLIA at 3431 Fort Avenue, Eureka, CA 95503. Also, the group maintains an excellent web site with photos of the equipment, museum hours, a special events calendar, and more info about the Timber Heritage museum project at http://visithumboldt.com/loggingmuseum/index.html. html.

Rio Grande Southern Motor No. 1

To save money, and ultimately the railroad, by eliminating the cost of a steam locomotive, coach and crew on lightly patronized passenger runs, the bankrupt Rio Grande Southern completed the first of its seven "motors" (later dubbed "Galloping Geese"), the No. 1, in June 1931, based on a 1926 Buick Master 6 Model 45 automobile. By the time Motor No. 1 was scrapped a few months later in October 1932, Motors 2, 3 and 4 were in service. In retrospect No.1's short life could be considered a failure, but was it? The only way to find out was to construct a replica of the unique vehicle and take it out on a railroad. Until the summer of 1999 nobody had even given the idea a thought.

While operating on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad in May 1999, restored RGS Galloping Goose No.5 suffered a broken axle. The Goose crew moved No.5 to Lobato siding, removed the broken axle and took it to the railroad's machine shop in Chama. The Goose axle is a complicated piece of machinist's art. It would take a highly qualified machinist to create a new axle, and at the time there were no railroad machinists on hand who could tackle the job. Karl Schaeffer, recently retired from the Union Pacific (Karl was originally employed by the Denver & Rio Grande Western, but after the mergers he retired from the Union Pacific), had just joined the Galloping Goose Historical Society. He was qualified, and volunteered to machine a new axle, a full day's project. With his help, the Goose crew had No.5 back on the road after missing only one day of operation. After this experience, Karl felt he should do something for railroad history.

Karl, by then living in Ridgway, Colorado, felt that replicating the long-gone RGS No. 1 was a project that should be done and that, with some help, he could do. The mordern No. 1 is a replica of the original as-built configuration with almost no concessions to modern practices. It is the premier exhibit at the Ridgway Railroad Museum in Ridgway, Colorado.

A 1926 Buick Master 6 Model 47 four-door sedan was located in Montana and trucked to Ridgway to be the basis for the replica. Using the known photographs of Motor No. 1, Karl drew plans for the replica, then started construction. The frame is part original Buick and part new construction. The engine was rebuilt. The cowl, windshield frame and doors were traded for the accurate Model 45 parts. The rear wheels, originally wood, were replicated in steel. Because it is likely the original No. 1's truck went to No. 6, the front truck is a duplicate of No. 6's front truck. A wood freight body was constructed. Based on sound logic, Karl painted the body of No. 1 Pullman green. (Remarkably, about two years after the project was completed a lady who had known the original No. 1 commented on the color -- it was green just like the original.

In a surprisingly short time, the new Motor No. 1 was ready for the road. On July 22-23, 2000, No. 1 was transported to the Colorado Railroad Museum, where it was run almost 50 miles. Its first public outing was at the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railfest 2000, where it drew considerable attention from the general public, even though it was not allowed to carry passengers. The public christened it "The Mail Truck".

Because of it's flawless record in 2000, No. 1 was allowed to carry passengers during the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railfest 2001. My wife and I were able to ride No. 1 on trial run day, where we discovered there is no better view of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad scenery than from the back of Motor No. 1 -- until it rains. Luckily the weather cooperated for the next few days and all the public runs were in very pleasant weather. We were part of the crew on the first day of public operation and the first load of eight paying passengers were a hoot! They really knew how to enjoy themselves.

On September 15-16, 2001, No. 1 was trailered to the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad for test runs. It ran from Chama to Osier and return, and may be back in 2002. In the summer of 2002, Motor No. 1 will be in several parades and car shows in Southwest Colorado, then will return to Durango for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railfest 2002 from August 22-25. If previous years are any indication, it is likely that Motor No. 1 will be joined by fellow Geese No. 2 from the Colorado Railroad Museum and No. 5 from Dolores. The D&SNG Railfest is the best opportunity to see a flock of geese each year (for more information visit the D&SNG website at www.durangotrain.com.

The replica Motor 1 is certainly a success, but it suffers from the same shortcomings as the original -- lack of capacity. But without the replica, it would not be known how well-designed No. 1 really was. Thanks to Karl Schaeffer, the new No. 1 will continue to operate and haul passengers as often as possible. For more information contact the Ridgway Railroad Museum at P.O. Box 588, Ridgway, CO 81432. ---Stan Jennings

 

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