Wednesday, May 5, 2010


There is an old steam-driven narrow gauge railroad about 35 miles north on the way to Yosemite. It is in the forest and has been there since 1899. It used to serve as a method of hauling cut timber from the forest but by 1931 the forest was pretty much depleted and the falling economy dramatically diminished the need for new wood.

The term applied to this type of logging is “clear cutting” and by 1931 nearly 1.5 billion board feet of lumber has been taken from this forest. Occasionally a tree was spared, but not many. It has taken the last 75 to 80 years for the forest to renew itself.

The principal logging company was called The Madera Sugar Pine Lumber Company. Madera bought these small, narrow and extremely powerful steam engines to do the work. The engines were built in Lima, Ohio.  With proper maintenance these locomotives perform as well today as they did well over 100 years ago.

Today Engine No. 15 is still in use hauling wide-eyed tourists on a one-hour round trip into and out of the Yosemite National Forest. This type of logging did not take place within Yosemite National Park because the park has been protected since 1899.


We can’t really recommend the trip. It is over-priced and, frankly, a little boring. But it was better than a day at the office.

Stay tuned

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