History in the Bush

in travel •  13 days ago

Steem Donkey-1.jpg

On the coast of British Columbia growing up you were in or knew about the logging industry in some way. There is tons of history in these forests and the men and women who worked them. The equipment was designed and build to tackle the steep slopes, remote areas and rugged terrain that exists in this part of the world.

One such piece of this history is this contraption pictured above. Its called a Steam Donkey, these unique tools of the trade were originally invented in 1881 but only lasted until the invention of the internal-combustion engine which led to the development of the diesel-powered tractor crawler. Though some have been preserved in museums, very few are in operating order. A great number still sit abandoned in the forests.

A logging engine comprised at least one powered winch around which was wound hemp rope or (later) steel cable. They were usually fitted with a boiler and usually equipped with skids, or sleds made from logs, to aid them during transit from one "setting" to the next. The larger steam donkeys often had a "donkey house" (a makeshift shelter for the crew) built either on the skids or as a separate structure. Usually, a water tank, and sometimes a fuel oil tank, was mounted on the back of the sled. In rare cases, steam donkeys were also mounted on wheels. Later steam donkeys were built with multiple horizontally mounted drums/spools, on which were wound heavy steel cable instead of the original rope.

Donky House-1.jpg

Over the years several of these historic pieces of equipment have been restored and can be found on display around the world. One of these is actually operational located at the McLean Mill National Historic Site in Port Alberni, British Columbia. It is now the only commercially operating steam donkey in North America.

The donkey pictured above is located in Sayward BC as you drive into Kesey Bay on Vancouver Island. There is a small, dilapidated museum of other forestry equipment located close by as well. The log sort in Kelsey Bay is still active and the action of the much more modern equipment can be viewed from many locations.

Thanks for reading and have a great Wednesday!

Scott

For more images and adventures - http://www.scottstevensonphotography.ca/

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