|Grays Harbor County (shown in red) and immediate surround area in Washington State is home territory for Saginaw Timber Company #2.|
|The #2 wears her original Saginaw Timber Company lettering once again after being restored to operation at Mid-Continent Railway Museum. Photo taken in 1985. Bill Raia photo.|
The Saginaw Timber Company would go on to absorb several other logging companies and change names to Saginaw Logging Company and later to Saginaw Lumber Company before finally dissolving on February 14, 1947. However, the Baldwin 2-8-2 would leave Saginaw Timber Company well before. Some of the company’s abandoned railroad lines would be paved over and are used as roadways to this day.
View photos of the Saginaw Timber Company on the University of Washington's Digital Collections website.
The North Western Lumber Company had begun logging in Grays Harbor County in 1882, although it was originally known as Simpson Lumber Company. The company was a joint venture by A.M. Simpson, a San Francisco lumber baron, and his agent, George Emerson. The company opened a mill in Hoquiam, WA on 300 acres of land which was simply known as Hoquiam Mill. Emerson's influence in the development of the town was substantial enough to earn him the title of “the Father of Hoquiam.”
In November of 1924, the North Western Lumber Company would purchase an American Locomotive Company 2-8-2T tank engine to work their line. Although an exact year is unknown, North Western Lumber Company and the Saginaw Timber Company would decide to make a locomotive swap. Historic photographs indicate this swap had taken place by the early 1930s. The 2-8-2T from North Western Lumber Co. became the new Saginaw Timber Co. #2, while the Baldwin 2-8-2 went to the North Western Lumber Company where it retained its #2 designation. The locomotive would continue to call North Western Lumber Co. home until 1939.
View photos of the North Western Lumber Company on the University of Washington's Digital Collections website.
|The #2 out of service and being stored in Aberdeen, Washington toward the end of its ownership on the North Western Lumber Co. Photo taken in 1938. Harold A. Hill photo. Martin E. Hansen Collection.|
The locomotive’s next stop would be Polson Logging Company, also located in Hoquiam. Alex Polson had settled in Hoquiam in 1882 and established a logging interest. He would later be joined by Robert, his brother, in 1891 to form Polson Brothers Logging Company. In 1903 the company name would be shortened to just Polson Logging Company. The Polson brothers would go on to become the best established logging barons in the area, ultimately boasting ownership of two saw mills, a shingle mill, two mansions, 12 logging camps and 100 miles of logging railroad lines.
Polson Logging was no stranger to the #2’s design. In 1922, the company had been seeking to replace aging locomotives with a new one. The company’s master mechanic was familiar with the #2 from its time at nearby Saginaw Timber Company and knew it was exactly what the company needed at the time. He ordered Baldwin Locomotive Works to dust off the decade-old blueprints and build a new locomotive as a near-exact duplicate of the #2. This younger sibling to the #2 became known as Polson #70 which is restored and recently completed an overhaul to become operational at Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad as Rayonier #70. The two Baldwin Locomotive Works siblings would come to be united under one banner with the #2’s arrival on the line in 1939 where it would be able to retain its #2 designation.
View photos of the Polson Brothers Lumber Company on the University of Washington's Digital Collections website.
|Polson Logging #2. Photo taken at "Railroad Camp," the Polson Logging company headquarters near Hoquiam, WA April 13, 1947. Al Farrow Photo. Martin E. Hansen Collection.|
In 1948 Polson Logging was bought out by Rayonier and along with it came ownership of #2 (and #70). Rayonier had first begun operations with a mill located in Shelton, WA in 1926 and was then known as Rainier Pulp and Paper Company, until its name change in 1937. Although the company’s beginnings were in Washington, most of its land holdings were in the southeastern United States. Not until after World War II did Rayonier begin rapidly expanding its holdings in Washington, including its purchase of the Polson Logging properties. The Rayonier name survived a later merger and exists still today as one of the largest land owners in the United States with 2.7 million total acres, 136,932 of those acres being in Grays Harbor County.
|The #2 under Rayonier ownership. Martin E. Hansen Collection.
|The #2 (at right) with fellow Baldwin 2-8-2 Rayonier #90 built in 1926 (at left). The #90 is on display at Lumberman's Park in Garibaldi, Oregon. Martin E. Hansen Collection.|
The #2 was kept busy hauling timber until Rayonier began the process of dieselization. Replaced by modern technologies, the #2 was sold yet again in 1962. After nearly a half century of dutifully shuttling logs throughout the Grays Harbor region of Washington, #2 would leave Hoquiam and the state behind for the last time.
Number 2’s next assignment would require a nearly 2,300 mile journey from Grays Harbor. The new owner would be Grand Traverse Northern Corporation, although it was planned from the beginning to lease the locomotive to the Cadillac & Lake City Railway. The real story of the #2's time in the care of the Grand Traverse Northern Corp. was just getting it there.
The month-long journey of the #2 from Rayonier rails in Hoquiam, Washington to a facility in Marquette, Michigan would be documented in the November 1965 issue of Railroad Magazine in an article titled "Engine Messenger" by James I. Gertz. Gertz was a Rayonier employee sent to accompany the locomotive while in transit over the Northern Pacific and Soo Line railroads to maintain it and prevent vandalism. The journey began March 3, 1962 and entailed Gertz maintaining watch over the locomotive day and night, including sleeping on a mattress right in the cab next to cans of oil, grease, some spare parts and a few wrenches. Limited to tagging along on local freight trains and with a maximum allowed speed of 25 miles-per-hour, it proved to be a trying task more for the sake of duration than mechanical or vandalism issues. Gertz's problems along the way were mostly limited to rods running warm and curious railfans and railroad workers climbing aboard at all hours, interrupting his sleep. The #2 finally arrived at Marquette, MI on April 3, 1962.
The Cadillac & Lake City operated between its namesake cities in the northern half of Michigan’s lower peninsula. Although far from its Washington roots, the Cadillac & Lake City Railroad would have had an oddly familiar feel for the #2. The rail line had originally existed as a branch of the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railway. The railroad had stretched northward from Grand Rapids to the Mackinaw City and the Straits of Mackinac, ca. 1870-1873, in order to serve the area’s booming logging industry, harvesting the rich forests of white pines, oaks, maples and beech. Despite moving over halfway across the country, the then C&LC #2 was once again on a rail line originally built to serve the logging industry.
Aside from the logging industry connection, there is yet another “small world” connection. The Shay locomotive, which would be instrumental in opening up formerly inaccessible forests to rail lines, was invented in 1878 by a man named Ephraim Shay, a general store and sawmill owner in Haring, MI, located less than four miles from Cadillac. Shay’s early locomotives would be built at the Michigan Iron Works Company in Cadillac for a short time in the 1880s before production moved to the Lima Machine Works in Lima, Ohio. Many Shay-designed locomotives would go on to work side-by-side with the #2 at its various homes in Washington. The #2 would cross paths with a Shay yet again at Mid-Continent, sharing the museum with Goodman Lumber Company #9.
Despite the many historical connections to logging, the #2’s new task on the C&LC was far removed from its previous duties. The height of logging in the area had already passed by the early twentieth century and the original Grand Rapids & Indiana Railway was bought by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1918. With much of the prime timber gone, the logging industry was not enough to sustain the economy and the railroad. Tourism became an important business and the area railroads began also catering to tourist, especially fishermen escaping the highly industrialized cities to the south for some outdoor rest and relaxation.
The C&LC Railway took over control of the Cadillac to Lake City line ca. 1963. The shortline was largely a tourist operation but also served local industries, which offered to slowly transition the locomotive to her emerging new role. The now-Cadillac & Lake City #2 would make her debut trip on the line May 22, 1965. While the #2 and the steam locomotives on the C&LC roster were used for limited amounts of freight service on occasion, most such work was left to the diesels, leaving the steamers for the tourist trains.
During this period, the #2 also was used in the filming of the 1969 film Gaily, Gaily starring Beau Bridges. Filming took place in the Chicago and Galena, Illinois areas in 1968. During the filming, the locomotive would be introduced to several cars from Mid-Continent’s collection that it would later join, including: Wisconsin Central #63 coach; Wisconsin Central “Oak Park” business car; Soo Line #957 first class coach; and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy #1900 (a.k.a. #1490) baggage car.
|Postcard image of the #2 on the Cadillac & Lake City Railroad operating just east of North Cadillac, Michigan. Leon Foster photo. Eddie Gross Collection.
|In a scene that would be repeated many times in the decades to come, a family poses for a picture next to the #2 while it is was on the Cadillac & Lake City Railroad on August 13, 1966. Note the modified position of the light on the tender. Esther Oberlin Photo. Eddie Gross Collection.
|Postcard scene from C&LC. Penrod Studios photo. Jeffrey Lentz collection.|
Additional information and photographs of the Cadillac & Lake City Railroad are available at RailroadMichigan.com.
The C&LC operation was discontinued in 1976, but by 1973 the #2 would begin another round of ownership changes. After the tenure on the C&LC, the #2 was purchased by Carl Ulrich. The locomotive was then shipped across Lake Michigan by ferry and transported to North Lake, WI where it would be repaired and later operate on the now-defunct Kettle Moraine Scenic Railway. This continued until Ulrich and Richard Hinebaugh, Kettle Moraine Scenic Railway's owner, had a disagreement and use of the #2 came to an end.
Ulrich then sold the #2 to Stewart Kuyper, president of Pella Windows corporation in July 1979. It is worth brief mention that Ulrich would immediately regret his decision to sell his locomotive and within a matter of weeks purchased Warren & Ouachita Valley Railroad #1 from two members of Mid-Continent. Kuyper’s plans included operating #2 from Pella to Des Moines, Iowa. The locomotive was moved to the Illinois Railway Museum (IRM) in Union, Illinois for re-working under the supervision of Dave Conrad. Instead of repairs taking place, Conrad instead advised Kuyper to find a different engine altogether. Kuyper would not have a chance to follow through on Conrad's suggestion. In all the ownership changes to date, this would be the shortest as Stewart Kuyper tragically passed away in 1980. Upon his death, Kuyper's family donated the #2 to IRM.
Illinois Railway Museum would not hold on to the locomotive very long. IRM approached Mid-Continent Railway Museum soon after, seeking to trade the #2 in return for Chicago Burlington & Quincy #4960 (now owned by Grand Canyon Railway), but no deal was reached. Later, seeking funds to build a car barn to move additional displays indoors, IRM placed the #2 up for auction on October 23, 1982.
A group of Mid-Continent members consisting of Skip Lichter, John Hucksdorf, John Berman, Frank Bartusek, Phil Hastings, and Harley Vodak pooled their resources to buy the locomotive, bringing it to North Freedom where it has remained since arriving a month later on November 22, 1982. After repairs were made to make the #2 operational it began being leased to Mid-Continent where it was frequently found in train service in its original Saginaw Timber Company #2 appearance. To honor its 1939-1948 era, the locomotive was relettered to Polson Logging #2 in 1999.
The #2 continued operating up until Snow Train weekend in February 2000 after which the locomotive was removed from service until it could be brought into compliance with the new Part 230 Federal Railroad Administration regulations. With the exception of a brief nine-day visit by Flagg Coal Company #75 in August 2011, Saginaw Timber Company #2 was the last steam locomotive to operate at Mid-Continent. Museum trains have since only been operated by diesel locomotives. It is expected that the #2 will also be the first steamer to return to active duty at Mid-Continent when repairs are completed.
|Announcement of the arrival of the #2 at Mid-Continent in the Nov.-Dec. 1982 Mid-Continent Railway Gazette.|
Since acquiring the #2 in 1982, Skip Lichter has slowly bought out his fellow partners. Today only Frank Bartusek remains as a co-owner. Lichter can usually be found working on the engine or in the machine shop on a near-daily basis. The locomotive is currently spread over two tracks just south of the Mid-Continent engine house with its frame occupying one track and boiler propped up on the other. Each passing train offers museum visitors the chance to inspect the latest progress made by Skip and the volunteers that assist him. Seeing a locomotive in kit form has drawn the attention of many museum visitors. If the hard-working Saginaw Timber Company #2 can garner this much interest while in pieces, it will indeed be quite the sight to behold when it is again under steam at Mid-Continent.
|Restored to its original Saginaw Timber Company lettering, #2 is seen at Mid-Continent in this undated photo. Chuck Burnam photo.|
A major revamp of Mid-Continent’s Steam Status page is underway which will include updates on the #2's restoration progress. In the meantime, you may find the latest updates on Facebook (HERE and HERE), while older updates are still available on the Steam Status page.
While the locomotive is privately owned, under lease arrangements Mid-Continent Railway Museum is responsible for the first $200,000 in restoration costs. If you wish to help Mid-Continent cover the expense of restoring the #2, please consider making a donation using our printable donation form. (Make sure to indicate Saginaw Timber #2 in the “Other” box). Mid-Continent Railway Museum is a non-profit educational corporation under 501(c)(3) IRS rules. All donations are tax-deductbile. An acknowledgement letter will be mailed to confirm your donation.
Written by Jeffrey Lentz ( )
In the process of creating this article, several inaccuracies were revealed in the existing Mid-Continent equipment roster website and Mid-Continent Compendium. Special thanks to Martin E. Hansen for his invaluable assistance with historical research and sharing his fine collection of photographs of photos from the #2's logging days. These errors would not have been able to be corrected without his assistance. Also thanks to Eddie Gross for offering to share his excellent collection of photos of the C&LC. Last, but not least, thanks to Skip Lichter and Linda Rowe for not only their assistance with the locomotive's ownership history, but also for all the work they have put in to help operate steam at Mid-Continent in the past and in the future.
Personal Account: Alex Huff (on Railway Preservation Network forum)
Personal Account: Skip Lichter (personal interview)
Mid-Continent Railway Gazette, November-December, 1982
Martin E. Hansen Personal Photo and Roster Collection
Rayonier by James Spencer