U. S. Plywood #11

A History - Page 3

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U.S. Plywood Corporation #11, Kosmos, WA (1952-1962)

 

With the beginning of 1952 a number of changes were to affect the operations at Kosmos. The first change occurred when U.S. Plywood purchased the remaining 10% of Kosmos Timber stock owned by Scott Paper, the successor to Soundview Pulp. Now with 100% of the stock owned by U.S. Plywood the name was officially changed to U. S. Plywood Corporation on February 1, 1952. The biggest change occurred during the year with the decision to abandon logging by rail in favor of trucks. Logs now would be brought out of the woods by trucks to a reload at Kosmos where they would be loaded on rail cars for the final journey to the Milwaukee interchange at Morton. With this change only three of the steamers were kept, mallets #11 and #12, as well as three truck shay #3. In 1953 a distinctive change occurred to #11 when its Baldwin smokebox door was replaced by a new flat door that resembles a garbage can lid.

 

Up to 1953 the railroad at Kosmos had been almost been completely powered by steam locomotives, except for a small 20 ton Whitcomb gasoline locomotive used early on, but this was about to change. All throughout North America steam was being replaced by the diesel electric locomotive and in the case of this operation it was to be a General Motors Electro-Motive Division SW9 built in December 1953. Numbered 100, this invader would cause shay #3 to be scrapped and mallet #12 to be sold to Harbor Plywood at Amboy, WA in 1954. But at least mallet #11 would be kept as a standby. It’s not known how many times #11 operated after 1954 but it ran at least once in 1957.

 

All good things can’t last forever and in 1961 twenty four years of moving logs by rail out of Kosmos came to an end. Beginning in June the railroad was torn out and in its place a U.S. Plywood owned logging road was built to move the ten foot wide oversize log trucks to the interchange at Morton where the logs were then loaded on Milwaukee Road log cars. The SW-9 diesel #100 was sold to the A.O. Smith Corp. as a plant switcher at Glendale, WI. As for #11, it was to go on to a life of higher education.

 

Display at University of Washington, Seattle, WA (1962-1972)

 

With the closing of railroad operations out of Kosmos in 1961 the future of the #11 was bleak. The number of logging railroads operating steam locomotives in the western United States and Canada could be counted on one hand so it was either destined for the scrap yard or display, luckily it was the latter. At first the engine was offered to the National Railroad Museum at green Bay, Wisconsin, but due to the prohibitive cost of transportation they had to decline. Another closer display location was soon found, this time at the University of Washington in Seattle. With its history in moving logs for the manufacture of plywood the locomotive was to be displayed next to the Forest Products Laboratory at Bloedell Hall on the UW campus as a gift from U.S. Plywood and the Douglas Fir Plywood Association. On January 8, 1962 the #11 was placed on a spur at its new home and four days later President Gene Brewer of U.S. Plywood presented the engine to university President Dr. Charles Odegaard and Professor Gordon Marckworth who was dean of the UW School of Forestry.

 

For the next nine years the locomotive was a representative of the many steam locomotives that toiled in the woods of the west but planned developments on the campus soon made it necessary to find a new home for the old logger. Another urgent reason to move the locomotive was that the Burlington Northern Railroad branch that ran through the campus was to be removed and having to move the locomotive by truck would have been very expensive. During 1971 numerous groups approached the UW asking for the engine with the view of the College of Forestry being that the continued maintenance and display should be in Washington State. Those groups requesting the engine were the Puget Sound Railway Historical Association (now Northwest Railway Museum) for display at its museum at Snoqualmie, WA; the Western Forest Industries Museum for its logging museum at Camp Six in Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, WA; the Morton Chamber of Commerce for display at Jubilee Park in Morton, WA; and Pacific Tours Ltd. for use in British Columbia.

 

After all the proposals were reviewed the winning group was the Puget Sound Railway Historical Association. Even though the museum was selected to display the engine it was still state property so the #11 was transferred to Washington State Parks & Recreation who in turn lease it to the museum. The plan the museum developed to move the #11 off the campus was to steam the locomotive to Kenmore with Burlington Northern moving it the rest of the way to Snoqualmie. With rail traffic ceased in 1971 the locomotive was moved from its display spur to the main track near the campus steam power plant in early 1972 where it would be close to power and air for tools. Throughout the spring and summer the locomotive was worked on and after securing a boiler certificate it was successfully operated to Kenmore on September 24th.

 

Northwest Railway Museum, Snoqualmie, WA (1972 to Present)

 

In 1957 a group of railfans who were concerned about the demise of the steam locomotive and other historic railroad artifacts got together and formed the Puget Sound Railway Historical Association, now known as the Northwest Railway Museum. A location for a museum was found near Snoqualmie, WA on the right of way of a spur that had originally connected to some coke ovens and later a log reload. The track was relaid on Niblock Spur but it didn’t have a switch connecting it to the Northern Pacific Railway Snoqualmie Branch so each time equipment arrived the track had to be thrown over, the equipment moved, and the track thrown back. In November 1972 another movement of equipment was destined for the museum and this also included USP #11. On the 11th the #11 was brought to Snoqualmie by Burlington Northern and on the 13th two steam cranes and four passenger cars were also delivered and after throwing the track all the equipment was moved on to museum trackage.

 

When the #11 steamed off the campus the boiler ticket was only for that move and to secure a ticket for regular operation required more work to the boiler and running gear work was also needed. The next time #11 was under steam was on July 14, 1974 when it and Weyerhaeuser Timber 2-6-6-2 #6, which the #11 had operated with at Klamath Falls, were double headed on Niblock Spur. In 1975 the museum acquired the trackage from Snoqualmie Falls to near old

Interstate 90 and in November the #11 began test runs with the first public runs being for Santa Trains that year. Throughout the next 16 years the #11 operated off and on until 1990 when mechanical problems, new boiler regulations, and moving off the Niblock Spur removed the engine from operation.

 

In 2003 work was begun on a cosmetic and limited mechanical restoration of #11 to the appearance it had around 1956 while at U.S. Plywood. The first work was done on the tender with replacement of the wood running boards, patching of thin spots on the tank, and painting of the tender. In 2004 work focused on cleaning and painting of the running gear and work on the cab. Doors and windows on the cab were either rebuilt or accurate replacements made along with correct wood framing on the cab walls and replacement of wood headlining that had suffered due to water damage. On the outside of the cab and remaining side tanks research on the layers of paint was made for color and lettering styles and after preparing the surfaces a protective coating system was applied along with correct lettering and striping in aluminum color. Over the years incorrect lettering and striping had been applied and all efforts have been made to correct these errors.

 

As this is written in late 2004 plans are to return steam to the museums interpretive railroad after completion of the Conservation and Restoration Center. Initial plans are to evaluate both #11 as well as Weyerhaeuser Timber 2-6-6-2 #6 as to which is the best candidate to be returned to service. Eventually more than one engine will need to be operable to provide a backup in case of unforeseen problems.

 

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