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Fully restored and on display at the Longview Public Library in Longview, WA: http://goo.gl/WYy1Ra
For many local families, logging is a way of life that stretches back 150 years. It has always been a dangerous calling, especially in its early years, when logs were huge and few regulations governed life in the woods. In those early years, too, it took a lot of muscle to get this region’s giant logs out of the woods to waterways or mills.
Ephraim Shay (1839 -1916) was a Michigan logger and railway owner who wanted a better way to move logs than on winter snow sleds. So he invented the Shay steam locomotive in 1877. It has a distinctive “gear-driven” drive train. Shay made about 3,500 of the engines in various sizes. Only about 120 survive.
Long-Bell Lumber Co. presented the city of Longview with its 50-foot Shay locomotive in 1956 to display as a tribute to the city’s logging roots. The city placed it next to the public library. Unprotected from the weather, thieves and vandals, the engine rusted on the lawn until the mid-1990s.
In 1998, Longview businessmen John Chilson and Jeff Wilson removed the 48-ton locomotive from the library grounds and began restoring it. They personally invested $140,000 in the project over the next several years. Volunteers from ILWU 21 provided the necessary trade skills. On Oct. 16, 2013, the group brought the Shay back to the library grounds, where the engine sits on a rock bed and railroad tracks. Construction of a timbered pavilion has been completed to shelter the engine, with Brian Magnuson of Cascade Networks leading that portion of the project.
The refurbished engine won’t haul another load of logs, but it is a reminder of the mechanical muscle that built this community.
— By Dawn Johnson-Deal
created July 24, 2014
updated August 19, 2014