The Western Steam Fiends represent the charter group at Powerland and they are dedicated to the preservation of antique steam powered equipment. They also participate in the restoration and operation of a wide variety of steam powered machines. The founders had a true passion for steam engines and steam powered machinery and started WSFA in Colton, Washington in 1952. In 1970, some of their members purchased the property that is now known as the Antique Powerland Museum Association. The Steam Fiends represent the foremost steam heritage group on the West Coast. Equipment includes stationary steam apparatus, steam traction engines, a rail mounted steam crane, and a restored operating sawmill. The Steam Fiends conduct an annual educational program called Steam School which runs January through May.
Meeting dates and location: January and August at APMA
Contact: Evan Burroughs, President: 503-585-5924
Miller Lumber Sawmill
Established 1971 by Leonard Miller and the Western Steam Fiends
This “American No. 1” sawmill is typical of the small, often portable, sawmills that operated throughout the Northwest circa 1900 – 1930. A wood fired 1906 locomotive boiler powers five steam engines that drive mill machinery. This fully operational museum display is used to produce lumber for various on-site building projects.
Mission: to present an exhibition of living history through the operation of this antique steam powered sawmill with a crew of skilled volunteers.
Contact: Evan Burroughs: (503) 931-2275
Sawmill Operating Schedule
Sawmill runs usually consist of three (3) runs per day of 30 to 45 minutes each. They generally perform two runs in the late morning, starting at approximately 10:00 to 10:30, again at 11:00 to 11:30 and then run in the early afternoon for about 45 minutes starting at approximately 1:00 – 1:30 PM.
During the two weekends of the Great Oregon Steam-Up, the afternoon sawmill run will start approximately 15 to 30 minutes after the end of the parade – which usually finishes about 2:30 to 2:45 PM.
July 30 & 31 — Great Oregon Steam-Up: 10:30, 11:30 and 30 minutes after the Parade
August 6 & 7 — Great Oregon Steam-Up: 10:30, 11:30 and 30 minutes after the Parade
August 27 — Truck Show
September 17 — Museum Day
The History Of WSFA Steam School
By Gary Clark
The first “steam school” at Antique Powerland was started by Roy and Wilmer Heinrich, in 1972. The Heinrich brothers were thresher men and Case dealers in the 1920’s in the Portland area, and they knew just about all there is to know about traction engines and threshing machinery. As I recall, there were about 10 students in the class, including Lowell Boyce, Les Layton, the late Harvey Hilands, my brother, Seymoure, and myself. The class was held on two or three Saturdays in the fall. The first actual engine operation was with a Farquhar engine. It was raining, and they had the nose of the engine just outside the door of the Currans building. The open overhang hadn’t been built yet. We learned how to operate the injector and basic engine controls. The instructors were the late Rodney Pitts and George Price.
The classes were held every two or three years, not on a regular schedule. In the late 1970’s, both Roy and Wilmer passed away and no more classes were held. A few years later, Lowell and I revived the steam school, with Rodney Pitts as the main instructor.
Through the early 80’s the classes were held once every two or three years in the winter, just as the present class is.
I recall one time while giving a lecture; I took a big slurp on my soda, and about choked on a paper wad that some joker had slipped down the straw! I then noticed, Leonard Miller (WAPI president at the time) and Laurie Boyce (WAPI secretary) were looking guilty, and trying very hard not to bust out laughing.
Steam school was held in the old WAPI office building, which was a converted roadside fruit and vegetable stand, and it was rather crowded. All the technical subjects were drawn with chalk on a blackboard, by artists that could mostly draw flies.
The History of SPMW 7020
Bucyrus-Erie 160-Ton Railroad Wrecking Crane
This Bucyrus-Erie crane, serial #9869, was delivered to the Southern Pacific at Ogden, Utah on Sept. 11, 1928. Our knowledge of its history is somewhat incomplete, consisting of bits and pieces of information, some confirmed and others not. It was originally numbered 680, but was renumbered to 7005 in 1932. SP changed their numbering system at that time, as numerous pieces of equipment were renumbered with 4-digit designations.
The crane is believed to have been bought specifically for use by the Shasta Division in the Dunsmuir, CA area. Its larger capacity and longer boom were helpful in pulling wreckage from the Sacramento River and many deep canyons in the area. It is known to have been stationed in Dunsmuir by 1939. In that year it was tipped on its side while attempting to re-rail a steam locomotive at the Cantera Loop. The locomotive’s engineer refused to drain the water from the locomotive to lighten it, and during the lift, soft ground failed under the outriggers of the crane, causing it to fall on its side. It had to be dismantled and hauled out of the canyon, to be repaired and rebuilt at the shops. Railroad Crane 7005 undoubtedly saw much action around the Cantera Loop, which remains a trouble spot to this day. In 1949, 7005’s boiler was converted from coal to oil firing, allowing much easier operation overall.
In 1958, Crane 7005 was traded to Klamath Falls for a 120-ton Industrial Works Crane. Crane 7005’s long boom made it difficult, if not impossible, to negotiate the many tunnels and sharp curves of the Siskiyou Route. In Klamath Falls, operation of the crane was taken over by Chuck Johnson, who ran it for about 14 years. Chuck works with our crane crew today, sharing his valuable experience and skill with us. He estimates that he worked over 300 wrecks with it during his career, and entertains us with many stories of working the Cantera Loop during the ’64 flood, pulling carloads of 747 parts out of the Sacramento River, re-railing numerous locomotives, and so forth. Chuck retired around 1973, and shortly thereafter, 7005 was sent to Seattle for major boiler rebuilding. Not long after that, SP was in the process of scrapping its remaining steam equipment, and the order came down to send 7005 to “the torch”. However, the yard crews liked the old Bucyrus, so they did a clandestine number swap, the 7005 that was scrapped was a 120-ton Industrial, and our crane became 7020.
By the mid 1970’s, Crane 7020 was stationed at Eugene, OR, where its trucks were retrofitted with roller bearings. At the same time, the final drive gears on the axles were eliminated, so the crane was no longer self propelled. It was still maintained for use, but on cold standby, no longer being kept steamed up on house steam. Crane 7020 was used occasionally until at least the early 1980’s. It made its way back to Dunsmuir during this period and is possibly pictured in John Signor’s book SP’s Shasta Division, working on a bridge near Hornbrook, CA in 1980. Its last known lift was in 1982. In 1985, it was photographed in Dunsmuir by Bruce Petty, for his book, Southern Pacific Lines Maintenance Of Way Equipment. Bruce appreciated the significance of the crane, and would periodically grease the piston rods to prevent corrosion.
By 1994, Crane 7020 was again sitting in the Eugene yard, and again the SP office was calling for it to be scrapped. However, the Eugene yardmaster, recognizing the value and good condition of the crane, contacted Rick Franklin, a railroad contractor in Lebanon, OR, to see if they could provide a better alternative. Rick purchased the crane and parked it in his yard in Lebanon. Wishing to have it preserved and appreciated, he donated it to the Western Steam Fiends in 2000. With the help of grants from the NRHS, and the Meyer Memorial Trust Foundation, along with countless volunteer hours, 7020 was moved to its present home in November of that year.
Restoration activities were initiated in spring of 2001, and we first fired up our “baby” in June of that year. Crane 7020 has been operated for our annual Steam-up and other events since that time. Our dedicated group of volunteers appreciates the maintenance and care the crane has received from many individuals over its career, as well as the ongoing financial and volunteer support that make display and operation possible.