Logging History Comes Alive in Lincoln, New Hampshire

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Carcass of Lombard found in Maine woods, Spring 1977.
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Leon Loel of Lincoln, NH, member of the restoration ''team''.
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Peter Thompson steering the Lombard, Danny Bourassa, right.
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The Lombard crosses Route 3 in Lincoln, NH on boards. Photo by Tink Taylor, the Laconia Evening Citizen.

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.)

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