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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Reedsport in Douglas County, Oregon — The American West (Northwest)
 

What is a Steam Donkey?

 
 
What is a Steam Donkey? Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 2, 2015
1. What is a Steam Donkey? Marker
Inscription.
Oxen Replaced Mules And Donkeys –
Steam Donkeys Replaced Oxen

By the early 1900s steam yarders or steam donkeys, as they came to be known, industrialized logging. These large steel and cast iron steam machines were used to stretch cables to downed logs and yard them to a landing area.

Blasts, Toots, and Whistles
Each steam donkey had a unique ear piercing sound to signal its crew that another load was ready to be yarded. At the peak of their use in the 1920s a variety of toots and blasts could be heard in downtown Reedsport. Residents from then have said they could recognize the distinctive whistles of as many as 40 steam donkeys logging in the hills around the community.

Moving The Massive Machinery
After clearing a section of felled timber, a steam donkey, attached to a sled of logs, would be moved. Cables from the donkey would be secured to stumps, and tons of machinery would pull itself to the next site.

Miles of cable were strung through a series of pulleys from the steam donkey up a spar tree and out to the logs a quarter of a mile away.
 
Location. 43° 42.2′ N, 124° 5.74′ W. Marker is in Reedsport, Oregon, in Douglas
Steam Donkey (<i>view from marker</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 2, 2015
2. Steam Donkey (view from marker)
Smith & Watson
12x13 Compound Geared
Convertible Yarder

9ft. Double Extended Fire Box

Manufactured by:
Smith and Watson Co.
Portland, Oregon

Manufactured Date: 1910

Owned and operated by:
Winchester Bay Lumber Co.

Last Operated: 1937
County. Marker is at the intersection of Walter Avenue and North 3rd Street, on the left when traveling east on Walter Avenue. Touch for map. Marker and subject Steam Donkey exhibit are located at the northeast corner of North 3rd Street & Water Avenue. Marker is in this post office area: Reedsport OR 97467, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 4 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. History of Local Steam Donkey (here, next to this marker); U.S.C.G. Station, Umpqua River, 1939 (approx. 5.8 miles away); Umpqua River Lighthouse (approx. 5.9 miles away); Brandy Bar (approx. 8.3 miles away).
 
More about this marker. Marker is mounted on the east side of the chain link fence surrounding the Steam Donkey exhibit. The illustrations on this marker are weathered and severely faded.
 
Also see . . .
1. Reedsport restores historic steam donkey once used for logging.
A 1915 Smith & Watson steam donkey was used for logging in the Reedsport and Winchester Bay area until 1937. It was left in a creek at the bottom of a ravine until 1994, when a team of retired loggers hauled it out to be displayed in town. Owned by the Winchester Bay Logging Co. of Reedsport, the steam donkey, known as Machine No. 36, was used to pull logs to the railroad where they were then transported to Winchester Bay. (Submitted on January 29, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Logging Crew with Oxen & Steam Donkey - c. 1900.
This turn-of-the-last-century view shows a logging crew using
Smith & Watson Steam Donkey: (<i>fire box view</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 2, 2015
3. Smith & Watson Steam Donkey: (fire box view)
both ox teams and a steam donkey to move their logs. It appears the oxen brought the logs down the slope, and then the steam donkey pulled them along a more level skid road to this staging area. Oxen, of course, have been used in the woods for centuries, steam donkeys, on the other hand, were introduced in about 1890. By World War I steam donkeys had replaced almost all ox teams, though they themselves were eventually replaced by gasoline-powered equipment (Submitted on January 29, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

3. Whats A "Steam Donkey"?.
"Steam donkeys" were steam-powered hoists utilized in logging, mining, and other heavy industry in the steam engine heyday. Steam donkeys got their name from the draft animals they replaced. Invented in the redwood forests of Northern California in the late 1800s, steam donkeys were the power supply used to move logs along "skids," or sleds, typically made of other logs. (Submitted on January 29, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Categories. Horticulture & ForestryIndustry & Commerce
 
Smith & Watson Steam Donkey (<i>piston detail</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 2, 2015
4. Smith & Watson Steam Donkey (piston detail)
Smith & Watson Steam Donkey (<i>skid view</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 2, 2015
5. Smith & Watson Steam Donkey (skid view)
Smith & Watson Steam Donkey (<i>side view</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 2, 2015
6. Smith & Watson Steam Donkey (side view)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 29, 2018. This page originally submitted on January 29, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 97 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on January 29, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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