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Notes on Logging Railroad Diesels

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  • Notes on Logging Railroad Diesels

    There was a thread on this subject last fall, and it (plus some other things) got me thinking about a project I'd had in mind for a while. Logging railroad diesels has always been a subject I've found fascinating, and my traditional approach usually involved compiling lists of logging operations that survived to the diesel era. For this project, I decided I wanted to flip that around a little bit and approach it from the standpoint of how many of specific models the logging railroad industry employed, so here goes.

    But first, a couple notes. First off is what I will call the "common carrier conundrum", which tends to confuse the issue. There are many examples throughout the lumber industry of companies that operated two separate railroad operations, the private logging railroad bringing logs from the woods into the mill and then a common carrier shortline railroad hauling the finished lumber out to the mainline connection. In most examples, the logging railroad typically ended before the diesel era, and many such lists of logging diesels tend to count diesels used exclusively on the common carriers as "logging diesels". There are, however, several examples where the common carrier operated all or parts of a logging railroad system, or otherwise handled interline log shipments as part of its normal operations. Splitting these out causes some confusion on the list, which I have attempted to outline below. I have generally excluded locomotives owned by lumber companies and/or common carriers that were either (1) restricted to common carrier operations, or (2) restricted to non-logging railroad roles, such as plant switchers, but in so doing I may have excluded a few diesels that actually did see some logging railroad service. Second, my knowledge on the subject is nowhere near complete. My knowledge base gets a little thin in the south and southeast, and I very well might have missed some diesels used in logging service in those regions. Keep this in mind. Additions and corrections are always welcome!

    So, with that background, let's get to the diesels, sorted by manufacturer in alphabetical order.

    American Locomotive Company (ALCO)

    HH660: 1 (Puget Sound & Baker River, Skagit County, Washington)

    S2: 2, both purchased new by common carrier Longview, Portland & Northern for its Ryderwood-Longview mainline. The first of these is said to have been the first large diesel electric purchased primarily to haul logs, though Red River had a much earlier model. Both of these moved on to other LP&N operations after the Ryderwood line closed in 1953. None of the other LP&N diesels (with one possible exception) appeared to move logs on any of their other divisions.

    S3: 4. Three of these were bought new by loggers, two by Brooks-Scanlon in Bend, Oregon, and the other by Hammond Lumber in Samoa, California. All of these went on to haul logs for others, the B-S locomotives to the Oregon & Northwestern/Edward Hines Lumber Company in eastern Oregon and the Hammond locomotive to common carrier Oregon Pacific & Eastern. Simpson bought the fourth used.

    S4: 2. Schafer Brothers bought one new that later served Simpson, while the Longview, Portland & Northern bought the other. The timing suggests it's possible the LP&N unit might have briefly hauled logs on the Ryderwood-Longview line.

    RS-3: 2, both Comox on Vancouver Island.

    C-415: 1, Weyerhaeuser, used on their various operations south and east of Tacoma.

    RS-11: 1, used briefly by Weyerhaeuser on the Oregon, California & Eastern

    RSD-12: 4, all used briefly by Weyerhaeuser on the Oregon, California & Eastern.

    Others: Apache Railroad had several Alco road switchers, but it's not clear how many of them were used in the logging end of that operation. The most likely ones would have been the three RS-36s bought new in 1962. California Western also had three used RS-11s, but they appear to have arrived on that road after the log hauling era ended.

    Baldwin Locomotive Works

    VO-1000: 3. Pacific Lumber Company of Scotia, California, had two, while Comox on Vancouver Island had the third. All were originally purchased new by various branches of the U.S. Military.

    DS-4-4-750: 4. Two of these (originally Baldwin demonstrator units) worked on Weyerhaeuser's operations tributary to their giant mill in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Common carrier California Western bought the other two new, and they qualify because CWR periodically hauled logs from various points on their mainline to the mill in Fort Bragg, California, into the late 1970s.

    DS-4-4-1000: 1, purchased used by California Western that hauled logs on common carrier rails only.

    S-8: 4. Weyerhaeuser bought two new for their Klamath Falls operation, while Medford Corporation bought a third- notable as being the only Baldwin switcher equipped with dynamic brakes- for its operation out of Medford, Oregon. Weyerhaeuser had the fourth for its line out of Sutherlin, Oregon, it was a hybrid of sorts as Baldwin built it as a DS-4-4-750 as its plant switcher and then upgraded it to a S-8 prior to its sale to Weyerhaeuser.

    S-12: 8. Rayonier purchased two new for its Clallam/Sieku operation. McCloud River Railroad bought two more that hauled logs on both its main line and worked McCloud River Lumber Company logging spurs; however, one of these was built without a turbocharger, but was still designated a S-12 by Baldwin. McCloud River sold its "legitimate" S-12 to Rayonier, where it joined its two. Apache bought one new, it likely worked on log trains, but that's not certain. California Western had two used S-12s that qualify for the reasons stated above. Finally, Southwest Forest Industries had a used S-12 from the Rock Island on their logging railroad out of Flagstaff, Arizona.

    RS-12: 6. McCloud River bought two new that later worked for California Western, and while they hauled logs at both places they did not leave common carrier rails. Weyerhaeuser had four used models on their Klamath Falls operations, and they saw use on both the Oregon California & Eastern and their private railroad.

    DRS-6-6-1500: 2, both purchased new by McCloud River. Both hauled logs for McCloud River Lumber Company, but only on common carrier rails.

    AS-616: 10. Rayonier employed five, all purchased used, on their Grays Harbor operation. The other five only hauled logs on common carrier rails, four on the Oregon & Northwestern Railroad and one on the McCloud River, though the MR example arrived on that road right as its log hauling era ended.

    Electro-Motive Division of General Motors (EMD)

    SW-7: 2, both purchased new by Weyerhaeuser for their Longview, Washington operations.

    SW-9: 5. Weyerhaeuser owned four on their Longview operation, while U.S. Plywood had the fifth on their line out of Kosmos, Washington.

    SW-900: 6. Pickering Lumber had four (all on road trucks), Simpson had another (only SW-900 equipped with dynamic brakes), and the Hammond Lumber/Georgia Pacific railroad out of Samoa, California, had the sixth.

    SW-1200: 12. The eight of these built with dynamic brakes are perhaps the best known logging railroad diesels. Canadian Forest Products (Canfor) bought three new (also equipped with road trucks); Coos Bay Lumber also bought three, one of which Canfor bought when the Georgia Pacific shut the Coos Bay line down, and Simpson Timber had the other two. Some of the Coos Bay units also saw service on the Oregon Pacific & Eastern during the time both operations were together under the Georgia Pacific umbrella. Weyerhaeuser bought a "straight" model new. Simpson bought a third unit used, and the St. Maries River Railroad owned the last two, both used on the Potlatch Corporation private logging railroad in addition to its own common carrier rails.

    SW-1500: The only known (to me) examples of these on logging railroads are the 5 or more Weyerhaeuser used on their operations out of Longview, Washington, though at least some of these came along after they stopped hauling logs.

    GP-7: 3, all Weyerhaeuser, one on their Longview operations and the other two on their lines south and east of Tacoma.

    GP-9: 6. Weyerhaeuser had three used models on their Klamath Falls railroad, all of which transferred north to Longview after the Oregon railroads shut down. St. Maries River Railroad had the other three, all of which hauled logs almost entirely on their common carrier rails.

    GP-35: 1, on Weyerhaeuser's Longview operation.

    GP38-2: 4, on Weyerhaeuser's lines south and east of Tacoma.

    In addition, Weyerhaeuser also had two "slugs", EMD SW-series switchers without cabs, both on Longview.


    H10-44: 5. Weyerhaeuser bought three new, all for their lines south and east of Tacoma. Apache Railway bought the other two new, both hauled a lot of logs on their railroad, which was probably a combination of common carrier and private logging railroad.

    H12-44: 1, Weyerhaeuser's White River operation, then later transferred to Vail (Tacoma).

    General Electric

    B-B 600 HP. 1, Red River Lumber Company. 12th diesel placed in service in U.S. (1926).

    70-ton: At least 13. Machines built new for logging railroads include one each for McCloud River Lumber Company and Fibreboard and two each for Meadow River Lumber Company and Cherry River Boom & Lumber. Weyerhaeuser later owned five, all purchased used, for its logging railroad out of Springfield, Oregon. In addition, the Oregon Pacific & Eastern owned 3 such machines, including the former McCloud River Lumber unit, at least two of which hauled logs on its common carrier rails.

    80-ton centercab: 3, all Pacific Lumber Company, Scotia, California.

    110-ton centercab: 1, on Oregon Pacific & Eastern. Timing may have been such that it hauled log trains on that road.

    I don't know of any 44-tonners used in a "true" logging railroad setting, though the timing is such that the Arcata & Mad River's machines might have been used on the logging railroad that fed the Northern Redwood Lumber/Simpson mill in Korbel, California.


    TE53-14E: 6. These were General Electric U-25B locomotives rebuilt with EMD 567 prime movers. Weyerhaeuser bought all six, five for the Oregon California & Eastern and the sixth for its Longview railroad, though it later saw use on the "Woods line" tributary to the OC&E.

    S3-3B: 2. These were slugs, also rebuilt from GE U-25Bs. Weyerhaeuser bought them as well, both saw extensive use on the OC&E and the connecting private logging railroad.


    45-ton centercab: 1, Georgia Pacific, Swandale, West Virginia.

    XL-60 B-B: 1, Red River Lumber Company.

    It should be noted here that small 4- and 6-wheel Plymouths in roughly the 35-ton and less weight range were almost ubiquitous across the logging railroad industry. One logger is quoted in Kramer Adam's Logging Railroads of the West book that they were as handy as a pocket in a logger's shirt. They could be most commonly found in work trains, camp and shop and mill switchers, log dumps, and other chores, but examples of them being used in full log train service are few.


    80-ton centercab: 1, Meadow River Lumber


    65-ton centercab: 1, Arcata & Mad River, known from at least one photograph to have been used on the Northern Redwood Lumber/Simpson logging railroad tributary to the Korbel mill.

    80-ton centercab: 2, both Weyerhaeuser, one each on their Longview (Washington) and Sutherlin (Oregon) railroads.

    75DE24: 3, all bought new by Potlatch for their logging railroad in Idaho.


    At least three gear driven steam locomotives were rebuilt into diesels that saw logging railroad service. Canadian Forest Products had two, one rebuilt from a two truck Shay and the other rebuilt from a two truck Climax. Western Logging Company at Valsetz, Oregon, had the third, rebuilt from a three truck Climax.

    I hope this helps and is of interest to some.

    Jeff Moore

    Elko, NV