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Deep River #7

(SKOOKUM)
 

One of the most famous of all logging locomotives is the Skookum.  This engine was the very first logging mallet built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1909 and only one of three 2-4-4-2 wheel arrangement engines ever built. This engine was originally built for the Little River RR in Townsend Tennessee as their #126.  They wanted to experiment with a small mallet for their light track.  Unfortunately the engine proved to be too heavy and many derailments during testing showed that the engine would simply not work for Little River.  The buyer rejected the engine and returned her in new condition to Baldwin

Baldwin quickly found a buyer on the West Coast for the Skookum. The Columbia Belt Line  of Blind Slough, Columbia was looking for a powerful rod-engine that would work on their logging railroad. Baldwin repainted the engine and gave her a name rather than a number.  She was named "Skookum", a Chinook Indian word meaning strong, good & powerful".  This was exactly the image Baldwin wanted to portray for this, the very first logging Mallet locomotive built. The little 2-4-4-2 worked beautifully. She exceeded all expectations and led the way for Baldwin to build nearly 50 more logging Mallets for use on other logging railroads.

The Skookum was typical of many logging locomotives of that era.  When one logger would cut-out their timber the engine would be re-sold to another logger for use on their railroad.  The Skookum worked for 3 different operators until being sold to a logger in Washington.  She ended her career on the Deep River Logging Co. at Deep River, WA.  By this time her name "Skookum" had been replaced with #7.

The fact that #7 was saved was a measure of both bad luck and good luck.  In February 1955 Deep River was nearing the end of their timber and thus the use of their logging railroad.  They planned to scrap the railroad and locomotives by the end of that year.  By this time Deep River had only 2 locomotives left, a big ALCO 2-6-2 and the #7. The preferred engine was the #7 because of its greater power and traction.  On February 23, 1955 while the #7 was backing her train of cars across a short trestle she hit a piece of broken rail and her tender derailed causing the whole locomotive to lean precariously to one side.  The crews got out and assessed the situation.  The engine seemed stable enough to the crew and since nighttime was approaching they planned to leave the engine until the next morning when they could return with the  2-6-2 and help re-rail the #7. 

With the engine leaning heavily to one side the fireman decided to add water to the boiler so the crown sheet would stay covered with water overnight.  As the water was injected into the boiler the center of gravity for the engine raised.  As the crew watched with amazement  the engine breathed a sigh and fell over on her side off the short trestle.   Even though the soft ground where the engine fell prevented  damage to the engine the crew now had an engine completely off the track laying in a stream bed. Re-railing #7 was now a major job.

Since the railroad had only a few months of work left and since the big 2-6-2 was available for service, Deep River decided to leave #7 in the woods and simply complete the logging with the ALCO.  When it came time to scrap the line in late 1955, the #7 was too remote for the scrapper to conveniently scrap the engine and get the pieces out.  The rail was pulled up and #7 was simply abandoned laying on her  side in the woods. 

The rail fan community had long known of this famous first logging mallet built by Baldwin.  When rail fan Charlie Morrow learned that #7 was abandoned in the woods he bought her from the scrapper "as-is, where-is". Getting the engine out was no small trick since the railroad had been pulled up and no roads were near-by.  Mr. Morrow and his friends had to disassemble the 1909 locomotive in the woods and take her out piece-by-piece.  The boiler had been on the frame since 1909 and was difficult to separate.  Mr. Morrow had to resort to using dynamite to blast the boiler off the frame.

Morrow was one of the founding members of the Puget Sound RR historical Society and #7's pieces were moved to the museums facility in Snoqualmie, WA where it sat in pieces until sold to Rogan Coombs in 1996.  Mr. Coombs, a California logger moved the Skookum to the Mount Rainer Scenic RR shops in Mineral in 1996 so the engine can be repaired, reassembled and operated for future generations to enjoy.

Specifications:

This 71-ton logging mallet was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, PA. for the Little River Railroad in Townsend, TN:

  • Construction Number:  33463
  • Date:  June 1909
  • Cylinders:  15 X 23 X 22
  • Driver Diameter:  48
  • Boiler Pressure:  200 lbs.
  • Weight:  71 tons
  • Tractive Effort: 27,430 lbs

Ownership History:

  • Little River RR (#126) Townsend, Tennessee
  • Columbia River Belt Line (Skookum) Blind Slough, Oregon
  • Larkin & Green Logging Co. (#7) Blind Slough, Oregon
  • Carlisle Lumber Co. (#7) Onalaska, Washington
  • Mud Bay Logging Co. (#7) Mud Bay, Washington
  • Deep River Logging Co. (#7) Deep River, Washington
  • Charlie Morrow (#7) Stored Snoqualmie, Washington
  • Rogan Coombs (#7) Stored Mineral, Washington

Photographs and information courtesy of Martin E. Hansen

  

 
 
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