Phoenix Logging Locomotives

Gallery opened 1 Oct 2018

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The remarkable tracked machines on this page were designed for hauling sleds of logs from the felling site down an icy track to a river down which the logs could be floated, or to a railhead or other conventional transport. It could be argued that they are really unusual traction engines as they do not run on rails, but they unquestionably look very much like locomotives, so after thought I decided to put them in the locomotive wing of the Museum.

Above: The Phoenix Logger: 1901

The Phoenix logger was derived from the Lombard Steam Log Hauler, patented on 29 May 1901 by Alvin Lombard, and was built under licence by the Phoenix Manufacturing company of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Phoenix paid Lombard a $1000 royalty on each machine; they built 175 of them, and they were considered highly successful.

Several of these machines have been preserved.

Left: The Phoenix Locomotive: 1901

There were two separate steam engines, one each side of the boiler, each driving one track on one side through its own spur gear reduction and driveshaft. A differential was therefore not required.

Note the need for a steersman at the front. This was a highly vulnerable position for the log sleds had no braking system (and neither had the logger!) so if the sleds began to overtake the logger on a downhill slope, it would be likely to jack-knife the logger and swing it off the track into the nearest tree; the steersman had to be very good at jumping clear.

Since logging required icy condition the steersman was also exposed to sub-freezing temperatures going down to 40deg below zero. Many loggers had small cabins at the front to protect the steersman, but this limited his ability to jump for his life when necessary. If no cabin was fitted an additional hazard the steersman faced was the danger of having his clothes set on fire by cinders from the chimney.

This image is used by kind permission of

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