U. S. Plywood #11

A History - Page 2

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Weyerhaeuser Timber Co. #5, Klamath Falls Branch (OR) (1939-1950)


In the west one name that is synonymous with logging is Weyerhaeuser. In 1900 the Weyerhaeuser Timber Co. was incorporated to purchase 900,000 acres of timberland from the Northern Pacific Railway in the Pacific Northwest. Several years later Weyerhaeuser looked to add additional timber acreage to their portfolio and in December 1905 they purchased the Klamath Lake Railroad and the Pokegama Sugar Pine Lumber Co. in Klamath County Oregon. Initially the goals of the company was to own the timber lands which by 1908 amounted to around 158,000 acres and by the mid 1920’s the acreage was even higher but soon the taxation on the lands in Oregon made it necessary to start considering the milling of the timber. In 1928 Weyerhaeuser began construction of a sawmill four miles south of Klamath Falls and a railroad was built into western Klamath County and eastern Jackson County to obtain the logs. Known as the west block this line initially used two 2-8-2’s and a two truck Shay. As logging reached further out a larger engine for the mainline run was needed and in 1934 the Baldwin Locomotive Works delivered 2-6-6-2 #4. This would be the first of five mallets used on the Klamath Falls Branch and it would later go on to fame as Sierra Railroad #38 and then Rayonier Inc. #38. In 1936 two more locomotives were acquired, 3 truck Heisler #3 that came from the Shaw-Bertram Lumber Co. at Kirk, OR and 2-6-6-2T #7 that came from the Clemons Logging Co. at Melbourne, WA. In 1940 the saddle tanks on #7 were cut down and a tank car was added as a tender.


With the acquisition of the Ostrander Railway & Timber Co. in 1939 Weyerhaeuser also acquired side tank 2-6-6-2T #7 which they transferred to Klamath Falls where it became the #5. When used at Ostrander the 2,500 gallon water capacity was more then adequate on the short runs but on the longer runs to be found in its new job water stops would be more frequent. Also the region around Klamath Falls is much drier making it more difficult to locate supplies of water. The solution was to attach an 8,000 gallon tank car that had originally been California Dispatch Lines CDLX 222. In the front portion of the tank car an additional oil bunker was welded in to supplement the 1,200 gallon oil tank at the rear of the cab. With this new supply of water the side tanks were no longer needed and they were cut down which also helped to increase forward visibility. The remaining portion of each tank was partitioned off and in the center an air reservoir was installed, and at each end of the tanks scrap metal, such as old cast iron brake shoes, was added to help increase the tractive effort.


In the late 1930’s Weyerhaeuser began plans to start logging their holdings in eastern Klamath County and western Lake County. The east block of timber was more than 60 miles from the mill and two plans were drawn up. The first plan was to construct a line off the west block railroad running along the west side of Klamath Lake then following the Sprague River to the timber lands. One big problem with this plan was the cost which was estimated to be near $700,000. Another possible scheme was to build a line off the Oregon, California and Eastern Railway that ran within several miles of the timber with the OC&E hauling the logs to the mill. The OC&E was jointly owned by the Great Northern Railway and Southern Pacific Railroad and one of the concerns to Weyerhaeuser was getting a favorable rate. Negotiations were successful and in 1940 work was started on the east block line near the community of Beatty. As this timber was planned to last more than 50 years the railroad was built to near mainline standards with curves less then 16 degrees and a maximum grade for loads of 0.5%. The rail used on the mainline was 75 and 85 pound laid on creosoted ties with 6 inches of cinder ballast.


When the east block line was opened more locomotives were needed and in January 1941

Mud Bay Logging Co. 2-6-6-2 #8 was purchased by Weyerhaeuser and moved to Klamath Falls where it became the #6. The final mallet for the K-Falls operation was saddle tank 2-6-6-2 #8 that was formerly Weyerhaeuser Timber #9 at Melbourne, WA and as with the other two tank mallet’s it had its tanks cut down and tank car tender added. Of the five mallet’s three still exist, #4 is at McCloud, CA as of 2004 and #5, later Kosmos Timber / U.S. Plywood #11, and #6 are at the Northwest Railway Museum.


In 1950 Weyerhaeuser purchased two 750 horsepower diesel electric locomotives from Baldwin followed by two more 800 horsepower Baldwin S-8 switchers in 1951. With the arrival of the diesels most of the steam locomotives were either sold or scrapped. In 1952 the #4 was sold to the Sierra Railroad and the #7 and #8 were scrapped later. In the case of the #6 it was kept as a backup to the diesels and was also used to provide steam for the track laying machine. As for the #5, it was sold to scrap dealer M. Bloch & Co. of Seattle who in 1950 found a new owner just over the hill from its old stomping grounds at Ostrander.


Kosmos Timber Company #11, Kosmos, WA (1950-1952)


Located southwest of Morton in Lewis County was the community of Kosmos. During the mid 1930’s Jack Southerland was Superintendent of the Civilian Conservation Corps who were active in the forests around the Cowlitz and Cispus Rivers drainages. Recognizing the potential for logging Jack approached Robert S. Fox of the Seattle Export Lumber Co. to help finance the endeavor. Initially logging was done by truck with the logs brought over the highway to a railroad reload east of Morton. From there the logs were shipped over the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad to Tacoma where they were dumped. Logging by truck started in September 1936 but during the winter months problems arose when the state highway department forced the reduction of loads because of the freezing and thawing of the roads. With the increased costs due to more trips with smaller loads a decision was made to construct a logging railroad. On July 14, 1937 the Kosmos logging Co. was incorporated to cover the operation and by July 29th work was started in building the railroad from the Morton reload heading to Kosmos and then into the woods.  By January 1938 logs were moving by rail.


On December 23, 1941 the company was reorganized as the Kosmos Timber Co. with 59% of the stock owned by Robert Fox and his Seattle Export Lumber Co., 31% owned by the U.S. Plywood Corporation, and 10% owned by the Soundview Pulp Company. The output was divided by the type of logs with Seattle Export needing saw logs, U.S. Plywood needing peelers to make plywood veneer, and Soundview needing hemlock and white fir logs for making pulp. In 1946 U.S, Plywood purchased the 59% share from Robert Fox so it could guarantee a reliable supply of peeler logs for its plywood mill in Ballard. At the peak of operations Kosmos was shipping on average 100 carloads a day and on one occasion they shipped 128 cars. Up to 1949 the railroad was using shays and heislers and with nearly 90 miles of railroad it could take quite a while to get from the woods to the reload.


In 1950 Kosmos acquired two 2-6-6-2’s, Weyerhaeuser Timber #5 that was purchased from M. Bloch and became the #11, and saddle tank mallet #12 that had been #112 on Weyerhaeuser’s Vail-McDonald line. With these rod engines they could cover the run from the woods to the

interchange at Morton in a more timely manner. In the spring of 1951 Kosmos had contacted  Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corporation, the successor to Baldwin Locomotive Works, about supplying replacement water tanks for the #11. While it isn’t known exactly why they wanted to return the #11 into a tank engine it may have been to allow it to operate on logging spurs or it also may have been that without the tank car tender it could haul more logs to the interchange.

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Text Copyright 2004 by Richard Wilkens. Used here with permission.