Mendocino Coast Model Railway and Historical Society
Train Show December 15th to 24th 2007 – Big Layout Operating
Logging Camps were established at the end of the railway line. The camps were moved when the timber in the immediate vicinity was all cut. At the camps, such as the one our diorama depicts, logs were loaded onto flat cars and hauled to the sawmill. Along the 10 Mile River branch of the Union Lumber Company’s railroad there were 42 camps.
For loading the train a derrick composed of a stout spar tree, a boom with wire or hemp rigging was used. A steam-driven donkey engine provided the muscle for the heavy lifting which in addition to the logs lifted the loggers cabins (our diorama had six), the privies, the cookhouse (which might also be permanently ensconced on a flat car) and the wash house onto flat cars so that they might be moved to the next camp. The donkey engine could move itself. It was mounted on skids and was “yarded”, pulled from place to place using cables attached to trees or rocks.
Way back when the logs were hauled to the “landing” at the camp by teams of oxen along a skid road – a road made of logs covered in mud which would have grease put on it to help the logs skid – our diorama has a skid road. Five to seven yokes of oxen made up a team, two oxen per yoke. A team could pull 15, 000 board foot or even more under ideal conditions – a board foot is a piece of wood one inch thick and twelve inches square. 15,000 board feet will make you a very comfortable bungalow.
Once steam came into the woods in the form of steam donkeys and locos the logs were hauled to the landing use wires strung from spar trees. The steam donkeys eventually gave way to caterpillar tractors.
Some camps were very rustic. Others, like the one at Camp One on the Ten Mile branch had a machine shop, foundry, church, school, store and a dance hall that doubled as a theatre. Our diorama depicts a rustic camp which had, from left to right, a cookhouse car, a water tower, a windmill pump for water, a boiler to provide hot water to the cooks and the wash house, the Wood’s boss’s quarters, tool supply and office, donkey and a spar tree. The are flat cars spotted along the platform which has on it two auxiliary winches. We have six cabins for the loggers which were like duplexes and housed a man in each half. Beyond out log pile is the powder hit where the black powder or dynamite was stored. The explosives were occasionally used to blast very large logs apart and to help in construction of the railroad itself.