Steam, Whistles, Bells and Tongs Pomeroy Farm Yacolt, Washington

We stepped back in time this past June to attend the Historic Steam Logging demonstration at the Pomeroy Historic Farm just outside of Yacolt, Washington. Initially we’d met Merv Johnson through Loggers World’s founder Finley Hays some years ago, and through the action of Johnson, logger Mike Rotschy, and a group of 20-30 if not more dedicated lovers of steam logging, vintage machinery, they’ve put together this steam logging show annually for roughly the past dozen years. The group is about more than machinery however, the common bond is “know-how” acquired through experience, and for those with the energy and interest, it is there for the effort.

The centerpieces of the show were two steam donkeys: a 1917 Willamette 6 1/4 x 10 (engineer Carl Deroo, fireman Dana Howe), and a larger 1927 Willamette 10x13 (engineer Elmer Tubs, fireman Walt Howe), formerly used by Simon Benson’s logging company, both now owned by Mike Rotschy.

They’d also raised and fully rigged a spar tree (powered by the big donkey) and built a heelboom loader (powered by the smaller donkey), which gave one an appreciation for the term “finesse” while watching them at work. And the logs they were moving were small compared to the giants they were logging when these machines were in their hayday.

Also in operation was a 1928 Model Four Northwest shovel loader owned by Charlie Davis, powered by a 160 Cummins engine, with a Young grapple and a home-made boom. Also skidding was a Caterpillar D2 crawler with an arch run by Deroo’s son Colton.

There were a host of other vintage machines as well, all up and running in a display of old and still operable technology, which was the high tech of the day, including a few vintage trucks.

The crew came from as far away as San Francisco and British Columbia, many of them have been a part of the steam logging show the past dozen years with a mix of veterans and relative newcomers learning the ropes. When you’ve spent the day marveling at the innovation and the effort it takes to set up, operate and maintain all these pieces, you’re left with a deeper understanding of the building blocks that today’s logging was built upon, and how truly innovative this business has always been.

Hopefully we’ll see the show return for many years to come, but as always time marches on. We shall see.

by / Mike Crouse