By the late 1880's the need for geared steam locomotives to harvest timber across the country was increasing by the month. Ephram Shay had already entered the market with his successful Shay locomotive design. Competition was only natural in this growing market.
Charles D. Scott was a logger and inventor who lived in Pennsylvania during this era. He had operated a tram railroad with a second hand locomotive that he found ill-suited for his needs. Mr. Scott undertook to develop his own locomotive design that he felt would do a better job on steep and un-even track. He took his plans to the Climax Manufacturing Company of Corry, PA for them to construct.
The design worked even better than expected and the Climax Locomotive was born. Loggers used to say about a Climax Locomotive that, "She'd follow 2 lines scratched in the dirt" as a compliment to the engines ability to operate over rough and uneven logging track. This engine is best identified by the 2 power cylinders on each side of the boiler, which operate at a 45-degree angle as compared with the cylinders on a Shay or Heisler.
The Climax became the second most popular locomotive design behind the Shay. The engines were popular for being less expensive to purchase than the Shay. Crews often disliked the Climax because of the pounding action of the cylinders during operation caused by the up-and-own movement of the piston rods. Our Climax is nick named Old Humpy as a result of this action.
Hillcrest Lumber purchased the locomotive in March 1928 just as the Climax Locomotive Works was shutting down its business. This was the second to the last Climax ever built. She has all the refinements found on any Climaxes built in later years. Originally built as #3 she was delivered in May 1928 to the Hillcrest operations on Vancouver Island, B.C. where she spent her entire 40-year logging career.
She operated for Hillcrest until 1968 when the mill shut down for good. She was the last Climax in regular operation in the world at that time. She was sold to a collector in 1968 that hoped to use her on a tourist railroad in Victoria, B.C. but that operation never got started.
In 1979 she was purchased by the Mount Rainier Scenic RR, was restored and is the first steam engine to operate for the MRSR.
This 70 ton Geared Locomotive was built by the Climax Locomotive Works in Corey, PA for the Hillcrest Lumber Company of Messachie Lake, BC:
Photographs and information courtesy of Martin E. Hansen
©2008 Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad www.mrsr.org