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Heisler #10: Geared Locomotive


By the early 19th century there were 3 logging locomotive manufacturers actively supplying geared locomotives to the steam loggers across the U.S.  The 3rd to enter the market was the Heisler Locomotive Works of Erie, Pennsylvania.  Their geared engines with their unique "V-shaped" cylinder arrangement were faster and more powerful than the comparable Shay and Climax locomotives that were available at the time.

The early geared engines were all of a 2-truck variety.  These had the boiler, cab, and fuel all mounted on 2 sets of geared drivers.  As the power needs of the loggers increased, both Shay and Climax perfected a 3-truck machine where the fuel and boiler were over the first 2 trucks and the water tender was mounted on a 3rd separate truck.  This added weight gave the 3-truck models greater tractive effort and range over the logger’s railroads of the day.

In 1912 an order came in from the Blue Jay Lumber Co, of Raleigh, W. VA for a large and powerful Heisler locomotive.  Heisler set out to design a 3-truck model that would work for a logger.  The result was the #10 - "P.J. Lynch".  She was the only 78-ton Heisler ever constructed and was the very first successful  3-truck Heisler ever built.  After she was tested and run for a period of time, Heisler began building 3-truck Heislers by the dozens.  The ultimate refinement of this design was the West Coast Special Heisler that is  represented by Mount Rainier Scenic RR #91.

The "P.J. Lynch" operated successfully for a number of loggers in West Virginia when in 1922 she was sold by a dealer to the Standard Lumber Co. of Standard California. While at Standard, she was numbered #10. The crews dubbed her the "Sacred - Ox" because she was the most powerful and easiest-to-run locomotive on the railroad at the time.

In the 1930's Standard Lumber Co. became the Pickering Lumber Co. and #10 continued to pull trains of pine logs down from the Sierras to the big Pickering Mill at Standard, CA.

Diesels had taken over most of the runs by the late 1950's and #10 was retired in 1963 after 51 years of logging service.  She was shipped with 2 other Pickering engines to a scrap yard in Stockton, CA where she sat until 1966.  At that time Gus Peterson of Klamath, CA was building a tourist railroad on part of his mill - timber holdings in the California Redwoods.

Gus moved #10 to Klamath and by late 1967 she was steaming with 2-8-2 #17 on The Klamath & Hoppow Valley RR.  This operation continued until the nations gasoline crisis of 1973 closed the line for good.  In 1982 #10 and #17 were purchased by the Mount Rainier Scenic RR.  #17 is now operating. #10 sits here at Elbe awaiting her own restoration.  She is a reminder of the innovation of the early 20th Century.


This 78-ton geared locomotive was built by the Heisler Locomotive Works in Erie, PA for the Blue jay Lumber Company of Raleigh, West Virginia:

  • Construction Number:  1252
  • Date:  June, 1912
  • Cylinders:  18” X 15”
  • Driver Diameter:  38”
  • Boiler Pressure:  200 lbs.
  • Weight:  78 tons
  • Tractive Effort:  30,000 lbs.

Ownership History:

  • Blue Jay Lumber Company (#10) – Raleigh, West Virginia
  • Southern Iron & Equipment (#1315) – Atlanta, Georgia
  • Edward Hines Yellow Pine Trustees (#1252)
  • Standard Lumber Company (#10) – Standard, California
  • Klamath & Hoppow Valley RR (#10) – Klamath, California
  • Mount Rainier Scenic RR (#10) – Mineral, Washington

Photographs and information courtesy of Martin E. Hansen



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