Logging With Steam Power

Oregon State Highway Photo

Oregon State Highway Photo.

Content Tools

Collier Memorial State Park located 30 miles north of Klamath Falls, Oregon, in the heart of the Ponderosa pine region is an ideal location for a museum displaying Pacific Northwest logging equipment.

In 1945 Alfred and Andrew Collier of Klamath Falls gave 146 acres of land to the State of Oregon as a memorial to their parents. Two years later the brothers began to construct a museum which would depict the evolution of logging equipment and challenge the visitor to reflect upon the past and improve the present. Today the museum is recognized as having one of the finest collections of logging equipment in the country.

Exhibits include a logger's home-stead, a blacksmith shed, and Pioneer Village, where authentic cabins (including a doctor's office, a store, etc.) are filled with artifacts and show a variety of construction techniques.

There are three buildings housing skidding and log transporting equipment. Steam was important in the early days of logging, and several examples of donkey engines are shown. These steam engines provided power for skidding logs to loading landings and their use gave rise to colorful jargon such as 'high lead,' 'choker' and 'whistle punk.' There is a narrow gauge steam-powered locomotive and several steam tractors.

This history of Oregon's logging is preserved at a unique logging museum at Collier Memorial State Park, north of Klamath Falls, Klamath.

The history of one of these steam engines is interesting for collectors of such engines. According to Rick Bauman, district manager of Collier State Park, the Aultman-Taylor horizontal boiler steam engine dates from around 1881. It is a 4-wheel horizontal boiler, steam traction engine with spade grousers. It is 9 feet high, 9 feet wide and 21 feet long and weighs 27,000 pounds. Steam engines were used extensively in logging pine and also in hauling lumber, as this engine was originally used for.

About 1912, John Hibbert bought the Aultman-Taylor to be used as a threshing machine. The engine was also used to run a nearby sawmill.

At some point, the Arnett brothers, L. L. and M. T., acquired the engine to log with and then to run the sawmill that sawed up the logs they had hauled in Swan Lake Valley. Young Paul Arnett (8 years old at the time) helped with the work and had to stand on a box to reach the levers! L. L. Arnett estimates that this machine developed 25 HP on the draw bar and 80 HP on the belt.

In 1915, George Hartley traded another steam engine to the Arnett brothers for this one. He used it for hauling logs and later for drilling wells, working with the Arnetts. The last well drilled with the Aultman-Taylor was in 1930.

In 1954, the current owner, Alfred Collier (the donor of the park) also donated the engine to the park for the museum. Its value at that time was $1,500.00.

Steam engine enthusiasts would enjoy a visit to Collier Memorial State Park. There is also a steam generating plant which produced enough electricity to run an entire sawmill. Park facilities include camping sites and pick-nick areas, with fishing in Spring Creek and the Williamson River.

For more information, write Richard Bauman, Park Manager, at Rt. 2, Box 450, Chiloquin, Oregon 97624.