The Steam Engine 1890s-1940s

Around the turn of the 20th century the steam engine
changed the face of logging forever.

Logging in the woods was no longer dependent on man and animal power. With the invention of the steam engine, different aspects of logging were modified to use this new technology. “Donkeys,” such as the Dolbeer Donkey, were steam engines with winches attached. These engines were used to haul logs out of the forest and place the loads onto wagons and flatcars. Steam tractors allowed larger loads to be moved in a shorter amount of time. Attachments to steam engines, such as air compression drag saws could be used to cut logs and free up man power.

Steam locomotives, or “Loci’s”, were used, and for the first time a large, economically profitable transportation network was possible. This transportation network helped create expanding markets outside of local areas. In later years, machines such as the McGiffert log loader reduced the amount of time it took to load logs onto railroad cars.

Furthermore, the steam engine allowed sawmills to cut logs into lumber at a much faster rate. These new methods for logging allowed harvesting in places that were formerly inaccessible, allowed more trees to be harvested in less time and allowed the processing, selling and transportation of lumber over greater distances. However, while these new technologies were introduced and used by the logging industry, more traditional methods, mainly horses, high wheels and man power, were still a major part of logging practices.