Log Hauler Enthusiast

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Box 2175 Wenatchee, Washington 98807

A friend in Wichita, Kansas, gave me a pleasant surprise by sending me a copy of the September/October 1990 Iron Men Album, which I haven't seen for many years. He got his copy from the Masonic Home in Wichita, Kansas. I saw this place while visiting Wichita about 1982, but I didn't stop for a visit.

I could follow several 'trades', such as a farmer, yard bird, rose grower, steamboat man, steam fiend, spiker, free-lance newsman/photographer, Indian historian, ex-hobo, logger, writer, collector of old items (except old women! No market for those, and always in good supply! That goes for old men, too!).

The photos of the Lombard log hauler in that issue were especially interesting as I'm familiar with the other type of log hauler. I mean the 'Phoenix' log hauler or steam skidder. There's one on permanent display at the state logging museum at Rhinelander, Wisconsin. These machines were widely used in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and it didn't always need a 'front end steerman.' Their front sleigh runners were steered by a worm gear steering mechanism and heavy chain right from the cab. It's possible some of them were converted from Shay-geared locomotives, as their boiler, cab and other parts were very similar.

A late edition of Engineers and Engines had a very nice story about a veteran logger from northern Maine, Vermont and Quebec, Canada, who used Lombards almost exclusively, along with his private logging railroad. The two types of log haulers or steam skidders were about equal in type and power. Some logging companies put water on their compact-snow logging roads and made 'ice roads' where they could haul record loads of logs.

I remember seeing or reading about Parker-made guns, and there's evidence the Colt Firearms Company built (or had built) a steam engine with about five cylinders cast in the round shape of a pistol. Very little is known of this engine but there's certain old engine collectors doing research on it at present. Only a few were built, so it's a rare engine.

It was also interesting to see that Bates Steel Mule on page 11. These are quite rare and are similar to the old Cletracs. And, strange but true, various types of modern tractors used in construction businesses are duplicates of these old ones, with more 'pitch' or larger rear wheels than the old one. There must be an advantage such as increased power in their type of crawler tractor.

Many years ago, while building the Garrison Dam, mechanics and 'catskinners' got together and took two '30' Allis Chalmers 'cats' and took off two crawler belts, and made one tractor out of it with dual controls and double the power. They also built an oversize 'dozer' blade that could level a load from a Le Tourneau scraper or a three or four yard truck at one pass. Now it's common to use these extra powered dozers (A-C's) on big construction jobs. Allard Peterson of Wittenberg, Wisconsin, Home for the Aged, first told me about this, as he worked on this job at the time the first experimental dozer was built.

Being a collector of steam locomotive photos for 40 to 50 years, the photos of the old locos on page 14 and 15 of the issue were familiar to me. New Zealand and Australia used many of these narrow gauge 'teakettles,' and E.A. 'Frog' Smith Sr., of Fort Myers, Florida, used to be a fireman and engineer on some of them on logging roads in Florida and Georgia. Some large sugar cane companies had their own railroads. I have a photo from about 1900 of 13 little 'Diamond Stack' locos parked around and in the D&RG Railway roundhouse at Salide, Colorado and it was also part of their narrow gauge line. The book Narrow Gauge in the Rockies covers all of the D&RG, RG Southern, Denver and South Park Railways and other narrow gauge lines in and near Colorado.

It's time to 'pull the pin' on this line of talk and 'close the squeaking door' after I read the magazine through I'll find someone who'll enjoy it. My friend, Perry Willis, of Louisville, Ohio might be one of your subscribers, as he attends engine shows all over the northeast, east, southeast, and west into Illinois. 'Whistlin' for the main line.'