The third major builder of geared logging locomotives was
the Heisler Locomotive Works of Erie, PA.
Invented by Charles Heisler in 1892, the Heisler design combined
the flexibility of a geared locomotive with increased speed. This was a
key advantage over its major competitors, the Shay and the Climax. The
Heisler was available in both 2 and 3-truck versions.
It's relatively late introduction into the logging locomotive
market attributed to the fact that only about 900 Heislers were built.
When the Willamette locomotive was first introduced in
the Northwest logging market in 1922, Heisler was the first victim of
this new competitor. The
Coos Bay Lumber Co. of Coos Bay, OR had ordered a new 3-truck Heisler in
early 1922 but immediately cancelled that order when Willamette iron
& Steel sold them their first geared logging locomotive.
Heisler was furious over this "up-start" competitor. At first neither Lima (builder of the Shay) nor Heisler took
Willamette's competition seriously.
However, as Willamette began stealing orders from both Lima and
Heisler something had to be done. Lima
developed their Pacific Coast Shay.
Heisler in turn developed their "West Coast Special" to
compete with Willamette. The
West Coast Special was the largest and most advanced Heisler ever built.
They were all 90 tons in size and sported all-weather cabs,
superheating, piston valves and many other improvements needed by
loggers in the Pacific Northwest.
Our Heisler #91 is one of the "West Coast
Special" Heislers. The
Whitney Engineering Co of Tacoma, WA originally ordered her in 1929 as a
“stock” locomotive. Whitney
was the West Coast dealer of Heisler locomotives.
In 1930 Whitney sold the big 99-ton Heisler to the Kinzua Pine
Mills of Kinzua, Oregon. She
was #102 on the Kinzua operation.
When Kinzua began using diesel locomotives the Shays were
scrapped but the big Heisler #102 was saved to act as back-up to the
diesel. However, by the
early 1960's the Heisler had outlived it’s usefulness and was sold and
shipped to Vernonia, Oregon and stored on the Vernonia South Park &
Sunset tourist railroad. She
was never operated at Vernonia. She
was then sold to Clyde Schurman a machinist who displayed the engine at
his machine shop in Woodland, WA.
In the late 1970's she was sold to Tom Murray who donated
the locomotive to the Mount Rainier Scenic RR. She became the 2nd engine
to be restored to operation at Mineral, WA. She was renumbered to #91 at
MRSR in honor of an earlier big 3-truck Heisler that worked out of
Mineral, WA for the West Fork Logging Company, an operation founded by
the father of Tom Murray.
99 ton Geared Locomotive was built by the Heisler Locomotive Works of
Erie, PA for the Whitney Engineering Company of Tacoma, WA. Whitney was
the Heisler dealer:
size: 18 ¼ X 16
Pressure: 200 lbs.
Effort: 43,000 lbs.
Engineering Co. – Tacoma, Washington
Pine Mills (#102) – Kinzua, Oregon
Schurman (#102) – Woodland, Washington
Rainier Scenic Railroad (#91) – Mineral, Washington
and information courtesy of Martin E. Hansen