Logging Locomotives

Gallery opened Oct 2018

Updated: 11 Dec 2018
Lombard logger added
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The remarkable tracked machines on this page were designed for hauling sleds of logs from the felling site to a river down which the logs could be floated, or to a railhead or other conventional transport. It could be argued that they are really unusual traction engines as they do not run on rails, but they unquestionably look very much like locomotives, so after thought I decided to put them in the locomotive wing of the Museum.


Left: The Lombard Steam Log Hauler: 1901

The Lombard Steam Log Hauler was invented by Alvin O Lombard of Maine, and was the first successful commercial application of a continuous track to a vehicle. He secured US patent 674,737 for an early version of the track system on 29 May 1901; this had spur-gear drive to one of the track wheels from a crankshaft, plus a chain to help transfer the drive from one track wheel to the other.

A second patent, US 8, was secured on 21 May 1907, and this described the complete steam logger. The track drive system was much altered, with drive to one of the track wheels by chain. A horizontal steam cylinder was placed on each side of the hauler, and the crankshaft was connected to the side chains via a differential.

This photograph closely resembles the drawing in the second patent. Wooden shelters have been constructed over the footplate and the front steering position

The prototype (named “Mary Anne”) was constructed at the Waterville Iron Works


Above: The Phoenix Logger: 1901

The Phoenix logger was derived from the Lombard Steam Log Hauler, patented on 29 May 1901 by Alvin Lombard, and was built under licence by the Phoenix Manufacturing company of Eau Claire. However the drive system was quite different.

Left: The Phoenix Locomotive: 1901

There were two separate two-cylinder vertical steam engines, one on each side of the boiler, each driving one track on one side through its own spur gear reduction and driveshaft. A differential was therefore not required. Steering was by a pair of wheels or skis at the front of the engine, and this put the steersman in a very vulnerable position. There were no brakes so if the train started sliding out of control his only hope was some rapid and well-judged jumping.

Permission to use this image has been sought but no reply received.

Left: The Phoenix Locomotive: 1910

The not-very-literate inscription seems to indicate that 10 sleighs of logs were being hauled, though only eight are visible in the photograph.

This appears to be happening at an altitude of 40,980 feet, but since Mount Everest is only 29,029 feet high, and its summit is in 'the death zone' that interpretation is clearly wrong.

On the other hand, could Ft Arpin mean 'Fort Arpin'? Such a place is unknown to Google, but Arpin is a village in Wood County, Wisconsin, United States. This website gives some logging history and talks of 'Wisconsin lumberman Daniel Arpin'. I think we have found the man behind the logging enterprise, if not yet its exact location.

This picture shows skis rather than wheels for steering. Some sort of box appears to have been erected on the middle of the boiler- its purpose is currently unknown.

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