logging layout ho scale in 1900-1910

Discussion in 'Logging, Mining and Industrial Railroads' started by hephaest, Dec 8, 2003.

  1. hephaest

    hephaest New Member

    Im contemplating on doing a logging operation in the 1900's to 1910's on my layout. And I dont know where to begin to reasearch what I need to put on this layout. What components/facilities/structures does one need (other than trees :D ) to put into such a layout. Saw mill? logging shed?
    water tower? What locomotives were most popular during that time? Lima Shays, Heislers...

    where do i research? where do i go. where do i look?
  2. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    hi hep,

    You might start with the sticky thread at the top of this forum section, it's got some real good links!!! :D :D

    Good hunting:)
  3. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    You might also check out some of Shamus's layouts and track plans. There are 3 sites, cooncreek is at the top of the page, and badger crick and red fox towards the bottom:


    You can include none, some or all of the structures. They might include cabins and dining halls (these can also be in the form of rollin' stock), loco servicing facilities, other support structures (blacksmith shop) steam donkeys and log loaders, a log pond and mill, tracktors, trucks, you name it. You might need some nearby recreation for the loggers too. Excluded structures can be implied off layout.

    I believe you can find climaxes, shays and porters running orund the hills during that era. You might even get away with some horses or oxen to power a side jammer.

    NGSL and Timber Times comes highly recommended. Ask Santa :)

    Welcome to logging! A great place to be!
  4. Summit

    Summit Member

    First off, welcome to the wonderfull world of logging railroads.

    The first step in determining how you want to proceed with your layout is to decide where you want your operation to be (what part of the country). By that I mean west side of the Cascades, east side of the Cascades, West Virginia, Black Hills of South Dakota, etc. This decision will have a big effect on the type of trees and other vegetation you put model (Ponderosa pine for dry side models, firs and spruces for west (wetter) sides, etc.). Once you have a location picked learn as much about it as you can. There are a lot of books out there about specific logging railroads and logging operations, and looking through a couple of books that operated in the area you are interested in will often tell you a lot about how things worked in that area.

    If you are in search of inspiration, there are a couple of really good general sources that provide a lot of general information.

    Books- A couple good books to look for are Logging Railroads of the West by Kramer Adams and Railroads in the Woods by John Labbe. Logging Railroads of the West has been out of print for many years, but is readily available at decent prices in many used book dealers (my favorite source is www.abebooks.com). Railroads in the Woods is still in print and is available from Oso Publishing (www.osorail.com). I can't recommend Railroads in the Woods high enough to someone just getting their feet wet. Beyond that, let your interests develop, see where they take you, then look for books about that area.

    Magazines- Two magazines exist that are entirely devoted to logging railroads and logging railroad models. They are Timber Times (www.timbertimes.com) and Tall Timber Short Lines (also put out by Oso, www.osorail.com). TTSL is a little bit more "professional" in appearance than TT, but the two magazines complement each other nicely. Both publishers also have a number of books each out about logging railroads. Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette does a lot with logging railroads as well, but quite often I find that one has to sift through a lot of Colorado narrow gauge to get to it.

    If you are into logging on the Pacific Coast, then you would be well advised to find copies of the January, February, March and April issues of Railroad Model Craftsman. RMC ran a series of articles on Pacific Coast Logging Railroads by Robert Turner in those four issues. The January issue focused on the development of the timber industry in the western parts of the U.S. and Canada, including detailed descriptions on regional variations in forest types; the February issue featured the steam logging era, talking about how the various types of steam locomotives came to be and giving general descriptions of logging practices of the time; the March issue featured rolling stock used in steam era logging operations; and the April issue was about those logging railroads that survived long enough to be dieselized. CTC Board between 1986 and 1990 ran a seven part series about the seven diesel powered logging railroads that survived to that point in time.

    Internet resources: Be sure to check out the extensive link thread on this board. I would also strongly suggest that you join the Yahoo 4L list (4L stands for Loyal Legion of Logged-On Loggers). You do have to get a Yahoo membership (it's free) to get into the group, but right now there are over 900 people in the group, and there are lots and lots of discussions about anything and everything logging railroad and lumber industry related. Lots of very knowlegeable people on the list willing to answer just about any question.

    Every year, usually in early summer, there is a Northwest Logging Modelers Convention, usually held in western Washington or Oregon. This coming year is will be held in mid-June (June 11-13, I believe) at a La Quinta Inn in Tacoma. This will be the 10th annual convention. There is a website up about the convention at http://www.nwlm.org. Lots of vendors show up to sell logging models, there are presentations and field trips and modeling contests. I have not been to one myself but plan to go this year.

    As for what to model, what kind of space do you have? To be quite honest, most sawmill models commercially available are (in all reality) too small to support a logging railroad operation. However, if you really want to put a sawmill on your layout, this fact should not stop you. You do not need a sawmill; you can choose to model just the harvest/landing area, or you can choose to model a logging railroad line that lies between the harvest areas and the sawmill. There are also a lot of real cases out there where a logging company had a logging railroad that connected with a mainline railroad or in some cases even another logging railroad, and the company would operate their railroad from the interchange to the harvest operation, with the mainline road moving the log cars from the interchange to the sawmill (if you don't have room for a sawmill, that would be an almost ideal situation...you have a Shay or two that move cars back and forth from the interchange to the harvest area for loading, then back to the interchange where a mainline engine shows up to take the log loads "off to the mill"). Just a thought, take it or leave it...

    The Bachmann Spectrum 3-truck Shay in HO scale is a model of a real Shay that was built in 1905 and is still in service on the Cass Scenic Railroad in West Virginia, but it is pretty close to a lot Shays built for western roads into the mid-teens. That would be my pick for a 1910-era operation, assuming you are talking about HO scale.

    Don't hesitate to contact me on or off list if you have any specific questions or need information on anything. I am always willing to share whatever info I have.

    Hope this helps.

    JD Moore
  5. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Great Advice, JD, thanks for typing that all in and sharing with us!


    1984 issues, I believe.
    Back issues listed don't go back that far, but perhaps can be purchased through a dealer. Or maybe they have them, but just don't list them.
    It would be fantastic if all the questions were asked here so we can all learn from the Q&A :D
  6. Summit

    Summit Member

    Ooops- I meant to put in that those RMC issues were from 1984...guess I missed that, thanks for picking it up. (It was late and I was tired...)

    The seven roads covered by the CTC Board issues were:

    St. Maries River Railroad (St. Maries, ID, Potlatch)

    Chehalis Western (Tacoma, WA, Weyerhaeuser)

    Weyerhaeuser, Springfield, OR

    Camas Prairie Railroad, Lewiston, ID (Potlatch)

    Simpson Timber Company, Shelton, WA

    Canadian Forest Products, Vancouver Island, B.C.

    Oregon California & Eastern Railroad/Woods Railroad, Klamath Falls, OR (Weyerhaeuser)

    I don't have my magazine collection in front of me right now but if you are interested I will provide the issues that each of these appeared in later on today.

    Before anyone says anything about the Camas Prairie not being a Potlatch operation...it was jointly owned by the UP and BN, but their raw log traffic was for Potlatch.

    Also interesting to note that of those seven, four still exist (CSP, STMA, CanFor, Simpson) and only three of those are still hauling logs (everybody but CSP). However, the CanFor operation on Vancouver Island is widely viewed as being the last operating true logging railroad since Simpson closed their woods railroad a year or two ago.

    I will be glad to share whatever I have on this board. Feel free to ask away!

    JD Moore
    Elko, NV
  7. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    JD - funny you responded to my query regarding railpub , as this thread is what prompted me to look for it :D :D :D

    They do have a lot of the earlier CTC Board back issues at $4 per copy , and most of 1984 RMC at $2.

    http://index.mrmag.com/ indexes them, CTC Board again only goes back to '90.
  8. hephaest

    hephaest New Member

    Thank you very much for that wealth of information
    I am really gratefull
  9. Summit

    Summit Member


    Happy to help. Let me know what areas you are interested in and I can provide you with a lit of some books that have been published about operations in that area.

    Always open to answering questions too.

    -JD Moore
    Elko, NV
  10. grlakeslogger

    grlakeslogger Member

    Logging Layouts

    Hello Gary. Welcome to logging, the most fascinating part (for me anyway) of railroading!
    I model logging in HO scale standard gauge. My layout is in a 13 ft. X 12 ft. den. It is my third logging layout in the last 25 years--I work s-l-o-w. I would also be interested in hearing about your space, modeling setting or locale, and goals.
    Here is a link to a sawmill complex being offered by B.T.S. as a series of laser cut kits http://www.btsrr.com/bts8300.htm As somebody mentioned earlier in this thread, sawmills are big. Your era, 1900-1910, sat near the beginning of large scale milling, mass production techniques applied to harvesting large tracts of timber. The only small mills left were specialty mills. Everything else was pretty large.
    Besides Shays, Climaxes were around in pretty good numbers at this time--both Class A and Class B with the need for the three truck version becoming a reality fast. Many operations used rod locos for the mainline haul to the mill and geared locos in the woods.
    Good modeling of logging--now this is just my opinion here--depends a lot on the mix of time, money, skill, and space available to you. For example, my space is medium; I've been at this for a few years, so I build fairly well. I save money by using a vignette approach to layout design--I control viewing angles so I can spend time and $ detailing what I can do well without overcrowding. That big sawmill is off-layout (staging tracks), but I am working on a millwork and planing mill right up close. Some woods spurs, a headquarters camp, and a small company town comprise the rest of the layout. Good luck, and, again, welcome!
  11. hephaest

    hephaest New Member

    logging 1900-1910

    Thanks for the welcome and the info

    The size of my layout is 16-7.5
    in a basement.
    The terrain is gonna be very hilly.
    Very tall mountains. Very Deep Gorges.
    The mill will be in the layout
    as well as a small logging camp
    and a 2 locomotive repair shed.
    The felling site will be off layout. I figured that the trees anywhere near the mill and camp would have been cut a long time ago. So the locomotives would bring the logs from some far off place. I seem to like the sawmill complex better than the spar tree and the general site of the felling area. I dont like to see all that cable up in the air. It seems to go against the nature around it. The sawmill house size I chose is about 10" x 16" . I can increase or decrease the size. This is just the size of the millhouse itself. It doesnt include the boiler room protrusion, sorting/drying deck, sawdust burner, log ramp, log dump, or the pond. 10x16 scale is about 75' x 116'. Do you think its big enough? If the size is too small for that time period, then I can just pick an earlier time period. I just picked 1900-1910 because i thought that things were not big then :D
    I want a time period when logging operations used railroads ofcourse but when they were still quaint :p

    As far as the location, I will pick any place that has the rock type and type of trees that I like best and will use in my layout.
    One thing I like to mention though about the time period, I looking through the book "Railroads in the Woods" and it has a section called "In the beginning". And this is where they just started using railroads and dolbeer donkeys. And this seems to bee a period of 1880's to 1900. So how can sawmill operations grow to big operations in such a short time, when they were still using animals to haul the logs in 1880's ?
  12. hephaest

    hephaest New Member

    I looked at the www.bts.com sawmill
    and it seems huge. All those windows and 3 floors. And yet the footprint is 116' by 65' thats 9" by 16" to scale. That roughly seems to be the size that I have chosen for my mill. It didn't seem big when I drew it on my layout. :(
    oh well, i guess I will have to make it smaller. HO scale is reeeaaally small.
    But one thing this www.bts.com sawmill states is that the real mill that this model depicts, was built in 1933. Thats way after the 1900-1910 period that I chose. So perhaps 1900-1910 is still a pre-big-mill period.
    one mill I really liked was the one by sierra west : http://www.sierrawestscalemodels.com/ckits/105/105.htm
    That looks like a more quaint little mill that I am after.
    The footprint of theleft side of the mill (the new addition that holds the new log ramp) is about 12.5" by 9".

    whats very strange is that even though this sierra west mill is not much smaller than the bts sawmill when you compare the inches, the look of the sierra mill is much much smaller than the bts monster. I dont get it.:eek:
  13. Summit

    Summit Member

    "One thing I like to mention though about the time period, I looking through the book "Railroads in the Woods" and it has a section called "In the beginning". And this is where they just started using railroads and dolbeer donkeys. And this seems to bee a period of 1880's to 1900. So how can sawmill operations grow to big operations in such a short time, when they were still using animals to haul the logs in 1880's ?"

    To find an answer to this you can't do much better than the opening chapters of Oregon-American Lumber Company-Ain't No More published earlier this year by Stanford University Press and written by three guys who grew up around the O-A operations in Veronia, Oregon. One of the best books, if not the best book, about lumber operations that I have ever seen. Pricey, but worth every penny. The basic reasons revolved around the building boom that was going on in the United States at the time fueled a huge demand for it, and until the early 1920's lumber basically sold itself, and this led to a huge influx of venture capital into the lumber industries. This happened to co-incide with advances in the science of milling lumber, including dry kilns, donkeys, etc.

    In the early years sawmills were generally located near water sources, as water could and would be used to move raw logs in and lumber out if no railroad was available. Sawmills had to be small in those days so they could move fairly easily as the nearby available timber played out. The advent of railroads made long movements of raw logs over land economically feasible for the first time...however, animals were still commonly used to get logs from the harvest site to the railroad landing into the early 1900's, when steam donkeys took over. These technologies allowed companies to build huge sawmill complexes that could draw timber from huge tracts of land and stay in operation for generations. This did not happen overnight, but close to it.

    Hope this kind of answers your question.

    -JD Moore
    Elko, NV
  14. Summit

    Summit Member

    Looked at the two sawmill kits, and the Sierra West models is definately more representative of the earlier sawmill design that the BTS version.

    Michigan-California operated a fairly extensive operation in the Sierras above Placerville, CA. Thunder in the Mountains by Hank Johnson (?) is a good book about this operation.

    From the looks of it, you can't go wrong with the Sierra West model...and from what they say on their site, you better get one pretty quickly too.
  15. Jim T

    Jim T Member

    Summit, Tnx for the heads up on the book about lumbering around Vernonia. Vernonia is about 40 miles from where I live and I've been there many times. I'll probably have to get it to add to my logging book library (OK, it'll be the first book in my logging library) LOL.

    Best Regards, Jim
  16. grlakeslogger

    grlakeslogger Member

    How did sawmills get so big so quickly?

    As the big operations like Weyerhauser and Hines, both of whom got their start in the 19th century in Wisconsin, set their sights on Northwest timber, they were already large, well capitalized corporations. They had gone through their growing pains in the Lakes States of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Rebuilding after the Great Chicago Fire used up a lot of Lakes States timber. Westward settlement and expansion used up a lot more. Logging railroads based on standard (Shay, Climax, Heisler) designs rather than the often homebuilt critters of Pennsylvania and other regions and thirty years earlier contributed to the efficiency of transporting logs at the same time. So, the size of the operations bloomed, as you said, almost overnight. Better bandsaws and by the mid-1920's, the chainsaw helped, too.

    I personally like the BTS mill complex because it is more typical of my own region and era. If you like the SW model, by all means go for it! If at all possible, visit a logging layout in your area. Ask around at hobby shops about products useful in logging, especially detail parts. A major decision to make soon is what to use for logging cars--that will determine siding length. That's something to have an idea about as you plan the layout. I favor the Keystone Locomotive Works Climax Log Cars. I was also very fortunate a few years ago when a display layout called the West Side Logging Co. came to Trainfest in Milwaukee at the same time I was planning my second logging layout. I picked their brains about cars, locos, layout height, minimum radius, structures, etc. The result was a far better layout. Then I moved, the old one would not fit in the new space, and I started fresh again. But, in the interim, I'd found I really liked some historical research. I am hoping the result will be a still better layout.

    Above all, model what you like. Let the scenery, signs, vehicle vintage, and buildings convey era and locale to others. But be sure it is fun for YOU.
  17. hephaest

    hephaest New Member

    Thanks for the info JD and Stu
  18. I have the SW Twin Mills kit (Sig. edition). If you build it according to Brett's plans (and include at least a small pond), it occupies an area that is 3' x 3'. I haven't started it yet because I'm still working on other projects. When I do, I will construct an "oversize"module for it and attach it to my layout as a peninsula.

    I'm also modeling early 20th century logging: Ozarks logging c. 1900-1928.
  19. grlakeslogger

    grlakeslogger Member

    That sounds like a great idea. Some of today's really spectacular kits deserve a place where a fellow can walk around them and sort of get up close and personal with them. ... and Casey does some really classy work, judging by his photos, that will really stand the up-close scrutiny!

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