The Willamette Iron & Steel Works of Portland Oregon had been supplying Loggers of the Pacific Northwest with Donkey engines and other steam operated logging equipment since the turn of the century. Willamette had also become well known for their ability to repair steam locomotives wrecked by loggers during the highball days of railroad logging. Many of the locomotives repaired by WISCO were Shays built by the Lima Locomotive Works of Lima, Ohio.
In 1921 several of Lima’s patents for the Shay expired. At the same time Willamette was able to hire away from Lima one of Lima’s principle design engineers for the Shay. These 2 events caused Willamette to take the plunge and announce they were entering the geared logging locomotive field that was dominated at the time by the Shay, Climax and Heisler locomotives.
Between 1922 and 1929 Willamette Iron & Steel Works built a total of 33 geared locomotives for loggers in the Pacific Northwest. The new locomotives incorporated such refinements as all weather cabs, girder frames, super-heaters and piston valves. The competition from Willamette did not go unnoticed by the other competitors in the field. Lima developed their “Pacific Coast Shay” and Heisler came out with their answer in the form of the “West Coast Special Heisler”. Climax did not come out with a model directly aimed at the Willamette since Climax sales had dropped substantially and in 1928 Climax closed its doors for good.
With only 33 locomotives sold, the Willamette product was not a financial success for the company. Our Willamette #2 is the very last Willamette built. She is a big 75-ton 3-truck Willamette built originally for the J. Neils Lumber Co. In Klickitat, WA In 1949 she was sold to Rayonier Inc. for use on their logging railroad at Sekiu, WA. She operated faithfully there until 1962 when Diesels replaced her.
Fortunately, #2 caught the eye of a Rayonier employee name Jim Gertz. Jim bought the engine with the stipulation from the company that he had to get it moved off the Rayonier property. Moving a big 75-ton engine was no small task and took Jim more than a year to accomplish. Jim took the #2 to his home at Port Angeles, WA and built a building around the engine to keep her protected from the weather.
In 2002, after 40-years of storage, Jim was kind enough to donate the #2 to the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad where she is scheduled to be the next engine restored by our shop crews. Restoration began in 2006 and continues today. Of the 33 Willam ettes built, #2 is one of 6 survivors.
This 75-Ton Geared logging locomotive was built by Willamette Iron & Steel Works of Portland, Oregon for the Neils Lumber Company:
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