Logging History Comes Alive in Lincoln, New Hampshire

Carcass of Lombard

Carcass of Lombard found in Maine woods, Spring 1977.

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Rt 1, Box 140A Campton, NH 03223

Saturday, the seventeenth of February, marked the end of thirteen years of effort by the Clark family of Lincoln, New Hampshire, as they unveiled,

a newly rebuilt, steam powered Lombard log hauler. Antique engine enthusiasts and forest historians gathered from all over New England to celebrate this major restoration effort and to photograph the giant machine in action. Following formal dedication ceremonies inside the White Mountain Central Railroad's brick engine house, those who braved blackening skies and snow squalls were treated to the sight of what is believed to be one of only two operating Lombards in the East, perhaps the nation.

The Clark family consists of two brothers, their children and grandchildren, eight families in all. The Clarks founded, own and operate a fifty year old amusement center called Clark's Trading Post which includes a Victorian village with buildings full of turn-of-the-century machinery and memorabilia. The Trading Post is famous in the White Mountains area for its 'Gold Standard Family Entertainment,' for the wild bear shows and for the White Mountain Central Railroad, which features three operating steam-powered logging locomotives, a Heisler, a Climax and a Porter. The Clarks are no strangers to mechanical restoration, they've rebuilt locomotives, steam rollers, antique autos, an Amoskeag steam fire engine, numerous band organs and a steam powered sawmill.

While a blizzard raged outside, family and friends gathered in the engine house to hear the history of the Lombard's discovery and reassembly and to view a photographic record of the whole process. A job this big requires a lot of teamwork and David Clark, who spearheaded the effort, claims he couldn't have done it without the help of his 'team', Leon Noel and Ronnie 'Bum' Harrington of Lincoln and Don Johnson, Jr. of Campton, New Hampshire, each of the men credits the others with doing most of the work.

David and his father, Edward, described their first efforts to acquire the Lombard. Considerable recognition was given to Henry Waldo of Lincoln, whose information about derelict haulers buried in the north woods of Maine sparked the interest of the Clarks. David, Leon and Don traveled to Maine in October of 1977 to follow up one of Henry's leads. The team entered the woods near Knowles Brook that fall with a truck, a long low-bed trailer, an International bulldozer and camping equipment. Two old Lombards had been abandoned at this site some sixty years before. One winter in the early seventies, someone had attempted to pull them out of the frozen ground with heavy equipment. In the process, the first one had been torn apart and then bulldozed under so the second one could be removed. The first machine was then left to the mercy of the elements and to those who stripped it for spare parts.

It was this half-buried derelict the team had come to recover. The boiler was nearly complete but the engine, drive mechanism and other major parts were mangled beyond description. David Clark related, 'the parts were strewn and half buried in a 300 foot diameter area. We would dig with the bulldozer and turn up all kinds of things. Some of the stuff we couldn't recognize but we had to save everything because we didn't know if we would ever be able to find spare parts.' Leon Noel described the process of building a temporary road from the site of the find to where the truck and trailer waited. 'As we scraped a path to drag the boiler along, we would turn up all kinds of brass pieces, gears and bolts and we'd pick them up. We had to stop after a while or we would've been there still. The whole week we were there it rained every day and we had to work in over-the-boots mud.'

After the week of intensive effort the loaded trailer returned and the next ten years were spent tracking down parts that were missing or mangled. The men who were responsible for the acquisition of two more Lombard carcasses were John C. Conners, of St. Francis, Maine and L. M. Sturtevant, a Lombard historian from Belgrade, Maine. The big Lombard has both their names inscribed on plaques on each side of the cab in grateful recognition of their help.

Don Johnson spoke about the intensive work over the last two winters to finish the hauler. The boiler had been retubed and all they had left to do was everything else. 'We rebuilt the engine, differential and gearing, made new support rollers, fabricated the chain drive, had new smoke box doors cast along with other parts, built a new firebox door and grate mechanism, built a new wooden cab and a new wood box, rebuilt the saddle tank, made new wooden skis and a new front axle (for summer use) and, in general, just did a complete rebuild of everything on the machine.' On display in the engine house were several of the old broken pieces that had been used for patterns when rebuilding the parts. Don said he enjoyed the project very much.' We had a lot of fun, but what do we do now? We just hate to see this project end because we don't know what we'll ever do to top this one.'

Earlier in the week, while Don was building the wooden cab, the engine was started up and run for two days to 'work in' all the new parts and gearing. As the weekend drew near, members of the Clark family called friends far and near, to tell them that Saturday would be the BIG DAY. As the speeches drew to a close, the big double doors opened and everyone scrambled outside with cameras in hand to witness the first run in sixty years of the giant machine. With a new gleaming coat of black paint, firemen and engineer in place, a man in a bearskin coat up front steering the sled, and a crowd of spectators, the Sturtevant-Connors was off in a cloud of smoke and steam. The engineer drove her from the Trading Post across Route #3 to the property of Murray Clark where a woods road had been prepared to test the Lombard. The restoration team lined up for pictures and then jumped aboard to put her through her paces.

The Lombard is thirty feet long and twelve feet high, weighs eighteen tons and provides one hundred horsepower with a working boiler pressure of two hundred pounds per square inch. The engine contains two horizontal cylinders, 9'xlO', that run at 250 RPM. To the average person, the Lombard looks like a locomotive with a big, black boiler and with dome, smokestack and whistles along the top. There's a tall wooden cab and a wood box behind it. The difference is that the Lombard has crawler-type tracks on the rear and heavy duty skis on the front to, hopefully, determine direction. In all, three men are required for safe operation; a helmsman on the front, driver and fireman back in the cab. Back in the late 1800's lumbermen were looking for a mechanical means of getting logs out of the deep woods. Horses pulling sled loads of logs on hard packed icy roads were constantly suffering injuries from runaway sleds and slippery footing and were being destroyed. The Lombard could haul up to twelve sledloads of pulpwood or saw logs for a combined weight of 200-300 tons. The log hauler was invented by Alvin O. Lombard whose ideas predated Caterpillar and other crawler-type tractors. A.O. Lombard was well-known in Maine prior to 1900 as an inventor of labor-saving machines for the wood products industry.

LOMBARD LOG HAULER IN NEW HAMPSHIRE Two views of a Lombard log hauler in New Hampshire. David Dearborn of Campton, NH tries out the Woods Road at Clark's Trading Post.

David Clark said he was pleased at how smoothly their engine was running as everyone watched it glide silently along the iced road. When he drove it across Route #3, the giant machine stopped traffic and caused curious motorists to leave their cars unattended. David said he was planning to have an authentic number plate made for the front indicating she was number 70 of 83 ever built. His plans are to bring out this community's newest relic during the long winter months, have it available for various steam shows and forest history groups and have it on view at the Trading Post or the general public during the summer. Although five other Lombards in varying stages of restoration are known to be in museums in the northeast, only one other is in actual working condition. It resides in the Transportation Museum at Owls Head on the coast of Maine.

As the people who had been at the Trading Post earlier left, others arrived during the long cold afternoon to marvel at the black giant. David Clark looked on proudly as his engineer friends took turns at the controls for 'just one more run in the woods' and he wondered where his next challenge would come from.

(The information in this article was taken in whole and in parts from a newspaper report by Tink Taylor in the Laconia Evening Citizen and from an article in the Plymouth Record Citizen.)