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 First scratch build - Rural sawmill from prototype

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
RyanAK Posted - 01/28/2019 : 2:19:07 PM
Hey, gang. As I'm developing my small prototype-based layout, it's apparent that the few structures that I will need will need to be scratch-built... or kit-bashed if appropriate kits can be located.

I'm going to be modeling the White Deer & Loganton in Loganton, Pennsylvania c.1910. The WD&L was a 3' gauge line running 24 miles between (you guessed it...) White Deer and Loganton. The line was owned by lumber interests, but served as a common carrier between the Sugar Valley communities and the interchange with the Philadelphia & Reading at White Deer.

Loganton was the terminus, situated in a remote, high mountain valley. I'm deep into research and have had some success in establishing a reasonable idea of what was happening in Loganton.

There was a depot that is well documented with period photographs. That should be straightforward enough to scale and build a good representation of. However, for months now, there has been one other primary structure that I've been calling the 'mystery building' that has a tight grip on my imagination. I had one poor photo and reports that there was both a sawmill and an engine house at the end of the line in Loganton. Here's that first photo. The 'mystery building' is at the left edge of the photo.

Recently I acquired one of those early photo books of the area called "Sugar Valley Villages". And there I found two small, grainy, additional photos of my mystery building.

Tight crop and enhanced:

A baseball game!

Tight crop and enhanced:

Neat, eh? And... there are actually TWO mystery buildings. Additionally, the captioning for these photos identify the scene as a 'sawmill'. Nothing else really useful. Not even the score of the baseball game.

So, where I am at the moment (besides continuing to search for additional primary information, including more photos...) is trying to determine just what we're looking at here. It's apparent that piles of lumber - either rough (I believe) or finished (unlikely) - are being produced. I believe this is stick lumber... photos I have don't indicate ties, mine props, or other timber products. I'm trying to figure out a few things in the absence of additional info:

* Just what are these two buildings?

* Are they related, or just near one another?

* Could the larger building serve as an engine house, even partially? There seems to be large opening on one corner. Hard to determine the trackage in the area from photos I have, so I can't be sure if the tracks lead to this opening or not... And perspective makes it difficult to determine if one of the Climaxes would fit in that opening... I have my doubts, but I have information that the tracks at Loganton ended at an engine house.

* What are the dimensions of the buildings and how are they oriented in relation to each other? The trains may help us scale...

* The narrower building (on the left of the baseball photo) DOES appear to be a small, rural single-saw mill. There are openings on the near side wall that allow us a bit of a peek inside. It also looks like sections of the far wall are open. The left end wall is closed. What would be an appropriate flow of logs through the mill to end up as cut lumber out the other end?

* From what I can gather, the WD&L did NOT deliver logs to this mill. All of the lumber company's holdings were at the east end of the valley and went downhill to the large mill at White Deer. I believe logs were hauled by horse team to the mill from operations in the near vicinity.

* How are the buildings constructed? They appear to have vertical siding - with or without battens - and plank roofing. With the lack of detail in these photos, what would be appropriate for the time and location?

So... lots of questions, but I really enjoy the research. If this is all the historical information I'm able to get, no problem. I'll make some best guesses and move forward.

Since this is my first go at doing something like this, any and all advice or suggestions will be hugely helpful and deeply appreciated. There are so many smart and talented craftsmen and historians on this site, I'm hoping I can lean on you all for guidance going forward.

This stuff is fun, isn't it?

15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Bernd Posted - 12/30/2019 : 11:25:11 AM
Glad to see you back. I saw your post about having to travel. Not much fun.

RyanAK Posted - 12/30/2019 : 09:38:11 AM
I'm sorta back. This job and family commitments really cut into my 'fooling around' time.

Don't get me wrong. I'm complaining about the job. I'd never complain about the Lovely Samantha and our two perfect kids. Every moment with them is a blessing. Which is why things had to slow down on the modeling.

Back to this sawmill... I think this could work out if the logs were considerably shorter. I need to dig in and do some additional scaling on photos... I believe this mill was essentially fed by horse team from local woodlots, the majority of raw logs from the timber lands going down to the big mill at White Deer. I have zero photographic evidence of log cars at Loganton. So, maybe smaller logs to begin with since they were coming by horse? What's a reasonable size for a couple of guys and a team to handle without all the mechanized equipment of a logging railroad?

Looks like the length of this sort of mill with this particular head saw could be summed up in the equation 2L+38, where L = log length and 38 is the needed additional length for equipment and operating clearance.

For 20' logs...
2(20) + 38 = 78 feet

10 footers...
2(10) + 38 = 58 feet


Bernd Posted - 12/22/2019 : 2:59:05 PM
Was thinking about what happened to you the other day. Hadn't seen you post in a while. I figured you got interested in another hobby and abandoned model railroading. Glad to see you had a reason. I've seen to many postings by some modelers with great enthusiasm and then nothing, like they've fell of the earth. Glad to see you'll be back.

RyanAK Posted - 12/22/2019 : 1:19:13 PM
Hey, gang. Other than some additional attempts at research on Loganton, Iíve been at a standstill. Come the new year, Iíll have spent over 200 nights in a hotel. Itís got me seriously worn down and when Iím home I spend all of my time with my 3- and 4-year olds. Heck, I only fished 4 days this year!

I think about getting this layout going often. Maybe the new year will bring some free time to dedicate to starting construction. If I could make a final determination on this building or the trackage west of the depot, Iíd dig in. One of the drawbacks of trying to accurately model a prototype location with sketchy information is paralysis in the face of uncertainty. Fingers crossed that I can firm things up and get started!
BurleyJim Posted - 05/31/2019 : 07:56:59 AM

I just went back through the thread and refreshed my memory on a few items you mentioned. I know you were wrestling with the length of the building. You estimated the height of the 'woman' at 5 feet. How do you know that wasn't a little girl? The man to the right may have been a better standard. A 6 footer was a very tall person back then. An average height was probably closer to 5'6" -5'8". That little deviation would have put the length just shy of 60'. Whatever it really was, is a moot. As CarlB said, a little fudging isn't going harm your work effort.

rlundy Posted - 05/31/2019 : 12:44:38 AM
I think this building may have started out as an engine house and later turned into a saw mill. In the first photo, the sawmill building isn't there. It comes in the later photos. Perhaps the engine house wasn't used any more and they turned it into a sawmill. As someone else mentioned the Keystone kit is a good starting point. Comes with steam engine and boiler, saw, carriage and a few other things. Building is similar to the photos. This kit comes in both HO and O scale. JV models has a kit called the Lucas Sawmill. Looks very similar to your structure, but no machinery.
Carl B Posted - 05/30/2019 : 3:28:23 PM
Any possible updates here Ryan?
RyanAK Posted - 03/04/2019 : 08:27:42 AM
I'm currently working an outage at a powerhouse that is keeping me from making much progress... 14 hour days, every day, for about 6 weeks. Doesn't make for a stable mind for working in 1:87. :)

BUT... I did receive the husk and carriage kit and may dig into it on a "fatigue day".

Glad everyone is finding the thread interesting!

sgtbob Posted - 03/04/2019 : 06:53:18 AM
Ryan, Very interesting watching you progress through this design. I will be following.

Carrie Creek Posted - 02/24/2019 : 2:46:17 PM
Ryan, here is the floor plan of my sawmill. It is :
main building 30'x84'
jack slip house 23'x26'
blacksmith/forge area 20'x24' inset 5'
60' carriageway 5' wide gauge. for a 20' carriage

My construction thread is buried on page 4 0f the construcion forum. The sawmill starts on page 13 then 19-20 with the rest on page 38 onward if you wish to go that far.

If you see any usable ideas here feel free to use them.
NE Brownstone Posted - 02/21/2019 : 12:52:09 PM
What is that big ghost building in the background between the depot and the engine house/mill in the picture. Could that have been the mill or is that a sorting house for a coal mine?
Michael Hohn Posted - 02/20/2019 : 3:24:08 PM
Could it be that there was once a small sawmill that was later moved or converted in part to a lumber yard?

TRAINS1941 Posted - 02/20/2019 : 1:24:25 PM
Ryan this is really interesting. Great research.
And I really like the way you came up with the overall dimensions!

Keep us informed a great project.
BurleyJim Posted - 02/20/2019 : 1:10:36 PM

I like your 'workflow concept' for the building, makes for a much more practical structure. Keep up the good work.

RyanAK Posted - 02/20/2019 : 12:14:25 PM
Phil - I'll try to track it down. Thanks for the heads up.

From the historical society, I now have the (somewhat conflicting) information that in the Sugar Valley 125th Anniversary booklet (1965) it is states that across the road to the west of the depot in Loganton was located an engine shed, lumber yard, coal yard, and wye.

Hmmmm... Maybe you were onto something, Mike. But I still have a several other sources that say sawmill. So...

POR (I like that!)


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