Preserving the Memories of a Proud Tradition

As early as 1859, steam locomotives were loaded on ships destined for San Francisco. “Lokies,” as the timber beasts called these iron horses, came into use in Oregon forests in the 1890s. The early steam locomotives were light, about 10 to 15 tons, and direct-driven. These early engines had trouble climbing the steep grades hauling logs required, and in 1881 the Shay gear-driven engine was developed. Like a steel mountain goat, it could handle the steep terrains.

With the much-ballyhooed arrival of Southern Pacific into Oregon in the early 1900s, logging would soon bring fame and fortune now that huge stands of logs and milled timber could be shipped anywhere in the United States. Logging companies used railways called ‘spur lines’ to log an area of forest and then would take them out when done.

Another steam-powered piece of equipment designed to load logs directly onto railroad cars was called the McGiffert Log Loader. It was considered by timber beasts to be state of the art for its day. It was able to move on its own power along railroad tracks. The McGiffert hunched down on the ties, tucked its wheels up into its belly and moved the log cars through its innards into loading position. A crew of four could load an average of 250,000 to 300,000 feet of logs onto cars in a day and under ideal conditions, load 400,000 feet of logs in one day!