Live Steamers and More: Living History Days at Collier State Park Logging Museum (With Video)

A CC commenter first told me about the annual Living History Day on Father’s day at Collier State Park, in South-Central Oregona few years back . I forgot my camera the last time we went, but now that I’m using my phone, that doesn’t happen anymore. And the best way to capture the sound and sights of some of the steam-powered equipment is with video, so I made a few of them along with some stills.

This first one is of the big Aultman Taylor steam tractor pulling visitors around the loop in the center of the event.

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The event is not very big, so we decided to make a full day out of the 2.5 hour trip each way over the Cascades to the east side. And instead of the obvious way, we took back-road Forest service roads over one of the main ridges into the Umpqua River valley, which has numerous waterfalls, a hot spring, and splendid scenery the whole way. It takes one up to the low slopes of the former Mt. Mazama, now world-famous Crater Lake, which we have been to numerous other times.

I’m not all that keen to spend a whole summer Sunday on a car shows or such, but if it can be combined with a day in the mountains and a couple of hikes, I’m all over it.

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Collier Memorial State Park sits directly next to Spring Creek, an exceptionally pristine little river whose water is perfectly clear, as it emerges out of the ground (hence the name) just two miles upstream. This is not uncommon in these parts, as lava flows bury creeks and rivers, which eventually/usually find their way back into the light of day. The walk along its banks is splendid, and the water color is similar to that in the clearest Caribbean reefs.

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The Collier family from nearby Klamath Falls owned a large lumber operation, and accumulated much of the equipment, which was donated along with the land for the park and museum.

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The really big steam engine was not in operation, sadly.

But this “little” steam tractor was, along with the big one. I rather liked this one, which has more exposed gears, pistons, cranks, chains, belts, and other moving parts than one could possibly hope for; a veritable symphony of mechanical activity on the go.

Another steam engine was driving a belt-driven saw blade. The noise in the background is an antique chain saw.

Before there were chain saws, there were gasoline powered cross-cut saws, which must have been quite the godsend to the loggers. The amount of human energy saved was immense.

Other old equipment also was out on the little circuit, like this vintage Caterpillar Thirty, which is its horsepower rating.

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Here’s some more of these. Track-laying tractors were originally designed and built by Holt, which later became Caterpillar.

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I love the logo.

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Lots of old logging trucks, like this big GMC with a 6-71 “Jimmy” two-stroke diesel under the hood.

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A couple of other old trucks along with that Jimmy.

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There were several Mack ACs, the truck that established the Mack reputation for toughness in the most demanding situations.

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The AC was powered by a 377 cubic inch (6.2L) four. The radiator sat behind the engine, just like in very early Renaults.

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Here’s one of these Mack engines on its side. The aluminum crankcase is quite evident. This type of construction, with a two piece aluminum crankcase, and cast iron cylinder barrels bolted to it, often with integral head (no head gasket to leak), was quite common in the early decades of the automobile and truck. In the 1920s, as cast iron casting technology improved, monobloc engines with detachable heads became increasingly dominant.

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Here’s one more. The radiator behind the engine is very clear here. These trucks were highly regarded, and many were in use well into the fifties.

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That reputation carried into the later models, like this iconic B series from the later 50s, early 60s.

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There was a Plymouth here too, but not the one we usually think of.  Plymouth built small gas and later diesel-powered switch and yard engines. This has to be one of the smallest ones they ever built; this is sitting on tiny narrow-gauge rails, and an adult next to it is decidedly taller. A toy engine. We did a CC on a “big” 1937 Plymouth switcher here.

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An 1884 Baldwin locomotive is resting under cover here.

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As is a whole slew of early lumbering equipment. But I saw them last time, so we’ll head out, and off for a hike up Spring Creek.

On the way out, the tireless Aultman Taylor makes another round carrying visitors. It must have been toasty operating that steam equipment in the summer heat.