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Aspgrove OR. narrow gauge logging railroad

PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 7:25 pm
by Randy Hees
I am looking for basic information on a narrow gauge logging railroad at Aspgrove OR (near Kfalls)

The company name is reported as Modoc Lumber, L.B. Menifee, or Forest Lumber. I suspect it is one operation with a series of owners.

They purchased a Heilser (No 1, Marion, 2 trk c/n 1018 Feb 1898, 25 tons) which had been built new for Pacific Coast Borax, used on their Borate & Daggett railroad about 1913, maybe later. Records could say it came from the Tonapah and Tidewater railroad, also owned by Pacific Coast Borax.

A second Pacific Coast Borax Heisler was later used on the Death Valley Railroad, then the Nevada Short Line, and ended up on the Round Valley lumber operation near Redding CA, owed variously by Friend and Terry and later by Red River Lumber.

Andrew and I are doing some research to support pages for the mostly Borax roads of the CA desert.... it would be nice to have a bit about where Marion ended up.


Re: Aspgrove OR. narrow gauge logging railroad

PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 7:50 pm
by elminero67
iirc the book "Railroad Logging in the Klamath" by Jack Bowden has a picture of it. I have a copy of it at work, will check Tuesday.

Re: Aspgrove OR. narrow gauge logging railroad

PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 7:44 am
by elminero67
I haven't had time to read the chapter on the Modoc lumber Co., but there is a nice photograph (p170) and some details of where she went afterwards, along with maps etc. If you dont have access to the book, I can pm you what you need.

Re: Aspgrove OR. narrow gauge logging railroad

PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 5:56 pm
by Randy Hees
I have the Bowden book on the way...

I have found quite a bit on the line following leads. I will have a write up posted in the forums by Sunday, with some open questions... eventually it will go to Andrew to post to the Railroads portion of the list.


Re: Aspgrove OR. narrow gauge logging railroad

PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:48 am
by elminero67
You will enjoy the book, Jack Bowden is a retired SP conductor who grew up in the logging camps along the railroad, so he was able to gather alot of "insider" information on the shortlines and narrow gauges that the average historian would not have had access to.
The book also will help clear up the myriad of corporate names. And if you ever decide to visit the area, Collier State park is just up the road and has one of the premier collections of vintage logging equipment in the Pacific NW.

good luck, Duane

Re: Aspgrove OR. narrow gauge logging railroad

PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:36 am
by Randy Hees
Having exhausted all available sources, short of a trip to Portland to the Oregon Historical Society or a visit to K-Falls... here is my history of the operation... comments welcome... especially any ideas on the photo of the shay linked under Lindquist, Collection. There are few photos, most in Bowden's book (his photos are apparently now held by Shaw Library, Oregon Investiture of Technology, Klamath Falls), none apparently when narrow gauge.

Modoc Lumber Co, Williamson River Logging Co.
Klamath Falls area, Narrow gauge 1918-1923 or 1925, standard gauge 1923 to 1939

The Modoc Lumber Co. was established by J. O Goldthwaith when he purchased a small circular saw mill, built in 1916 by Wilbur Knapp, on the Williamson River, one mile north of Chiloquin, 28 miles north of Klamath Falls in 1918. The company’s operations are generally reported to be in Aspgrove OR.
It appears that initially, the Modoc Lumber Co was the holding company and sales unit, while the production group, including the mill and narrow gauge railroad operated as the Williamson River Logging Co.

Goldthwaith rebuilt the mill, and added a 3’ gauge logging line, starting with a 25 ton 2 truck Heisler (c/n 1018, built 2/1898 for Pacific Coast Borax for the Borate & Daggett) and eventually, as many as 25 pair of disconnect log cars.

By 1920 Modoc Lbr was in trouble, as was its SF distributor. Both were in receivership, and L. B. Menefee Lbr. Co. was included in the lawsuit as an additional creditor, possibly now in control. By 1922 the railroad had 8 miles of track, 1 locomotive and 25 ton pair of disconnects.

The company was reorganized in 1923, becoming the Modoc Pine Lumber Company. The mill did not operate in 1923 (and possibly 1924 as well) By April 1923 another seven piles of track had been added.

The date of the conversion to from narrow gauge to standard gauge is somewhat confused, variously described as 1922 or 1923, and as after 1925 when Forest Lumber took over. I suspect, the original line, which was built west of the Southern Pacific mainline was built as narrow gauge, but when extended across the Southern Pacific to the east, after 1923, the new track was standard gauge, using Southern Pacific tracks to reach the mill. The narrow gauge line to the west of the SP was abandoned by Forest Lumber.

The company reopened for the 1925 season now under control of L.B. Menefee. Menefee added a second standard gauge heisler. In May 1925 the mill burned to the ground. Signor reports that at the time of the take over (1925) Forest Lumber received 70 flat cars (more likely a mix of narrow gauge disconnect trucks and standard gauge flatcars), and attributes one shay to Menefee.

As a result the property was sold to Forest Lumber of Kansas City (via Exchange Sawmill Sales Co., also of Kansas City) who rebuilt the mill and extended the railroad. As a standard gauge line Signor reports they used SP log cars, but one photo shows steel flat cars in use. Forest lumber would eventually add a 4-6-0 and a Pacific Coast Shay.

The mill burned again in 1939, and the company closed and railroad abandoned.

Known Locomotives: (both narrow and standard gauge)

No 1, Heisler, 2 truck, 25 tons, c/n 1018, built 1898, 3’ gauge as built
Built as narrow gauge for Pacific Coast Borax (Borate & Daggett Railroad) to Modoc Lumber, et all 1918, converted to standard gauge by Forest Lumber c.1925, probably scrapped c.1939

No 2, Heisler, 2 truck, 60 tons, c/n 1189, built 1910, standard gauge as built
Built new for Johnson-Dean Lumber, No 101, Robe WA, to Williamson River Logging, under Meneffee control, c.1923

(No 3?) locomotive unknown, but, possibly Lima Shay, unidentified, added by Menefee?
Possibly originally narrow gauge (not certain)
Possible photo of locomotive with Standard gauge SP log cars

No 4, Lima 4-6-0, 17x24, 48” drivers, 53 tons, c/n 1034, 1906
Built (Std gauge) for Horseshoe Lumber Co, (No 6) Alabama
To Forest Lumber, Later to Lamm Lumber (No 4) Modoc Point Or
Scrapped, 1947

No 5 Lima “Pacific Coast Shay” c/n 3327, standard gauge
Built for stock 1929,To Forest Lumber No 5, later to Pickering Lumber Co (No 11), Standard CA, preserved Mt. Rainier Scenic RR Elbe, Washington.


Published in Bowden, Railroad Logging in the Klamath Country p 173



Bowden, Jack, Railroad Logging in the Klamath Country (Oso Publishing, Hamilton MT, 2003) p169-179
Kline, Benjamin The Heisler Locomotive, 1891-1941 (by the author, Lancaster PA, 1982)

Koch, Michael, The Shay Locomotive, Titan of the Timber, (World Press, Denver, 1971)

Signor, John, Southern Pacific’s Shasta Division, (Signature Press, Wilton CA, 2000) p180,181

On line

Lamm, W.E. (1957). "Lumbering in Klamath". A history of Klamath area logging. Retrieved 19 Feb. 2013
A court case involving Modoc Lumber, its San Francisco distributor, and L.B. Menefee can be found on Public Resource at ... fs1510.pdf

G E E Lindquist, Collection of Native American Photographs, held by Burke Library, Columbia University. Includes photos of logging on the Klamath Indian Reservation, on the Williamson River. Log cars are marked SP Co, and one unidentified shay is shown.[subject_geographic__facet][]=Klamath%20Indian%20Reservation%20%28Or.%29

Other Identified Sources

The Oregon Historical Society holds 8 cubic feet of records from the Modoc Lumber Co. under MSS 1734. The records are unprocessed.

Jack Bowden Collection, Shaw Library, Oregon Investiture of Technology, Klamath Falls

Comments welcome, Randy

Re: Aspgrove OR. narrow gauge logging railroad

PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 9:34 pm
by elminero67
The Oregon Historical Society sounds like the definitive source of info.

One online source is the Oregon Digital newspaper project: ... e=advanced

The search engine on this site is "funny:" The easiest way is to go to the search function and narrow it down. The Klamath Falls "Evening Herald" is available for much of the late teens and early twenties. A quick search for "modoc Lumber" gave 175 hits, but most of those were advertisements.

The Mills photograph collection at U of Oregon has alot of shortline railroads in the Pacific NW that do not necesarily show up on the finding guide. The U of O special collections staff is not real skookum, and I think their database is running off a Commodore 64 computor system....

Re: Aspgrove OR. narrow gauge logging railroad

PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:37 am
by Randy Hees
Thanks for the lead for the digital newspapers. I spent an hour last night looking for information. Mostly it confirms the companies issues in 1920-25 when they mostly didn't operate. I found one article about extending the railroad, which I believe was the impetus and opportunity to change gauges but of course the gauge is not discussed. I tried concentrating on the dates when we believe new locomotives were added, but that didn't yeild anything.

I will keep noodling about.

The newspapers may help for other Oregon railroads...


Re: Aspgrove OR. narrow gauge logging railroad

PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:30 pm
by PacificCoastBorax99
Evening all, just thought I'd bump this thread to bring to light some information I've been scoping about on this line.

I've been passing through the Chiloquin area to get a deeper dig made into the mysteries behind Modoc/Forest Lumber and was even able to locate and trace a section of the standard-gauge roadbed heading out of Kirk and into the Calimus Marsh, with many of the ties still in place on the roadbed and some still having spikes in them! ...and we even found a section of rail and many other artifacts dating back to the 1940's, the time period when they took up the rails after Forest Lumber ceased operations in Klamath following the disastrous 1939 Pine Ridge fire...but they didn't do a very good job of taking it all up. ;)

I've also been digging further into Jack Bowden's book "Railroad Logging in the Klamath County" which has an impressive chapter full of info regarding Forest Lumber's operations, and got ahold of a book talking about the mill and company town at Pine Ridge, but it sadly doesn't say anything new about the railroad that's not already in Bowden's book....

Oh well, anyways I've been looking in Bowden's book and it says they had three locomotives by 1929, which I assume would be the Lima 4-6-0 (later sold to Lamm Lumber, Modoc Point 1939), the new-built Shay (No. 5, now Pickering Lumber #11 of Mt. Rainier Scenic R.R.) and their No. 1, a Heisler locomotive bought from the Borate & Daggett Railroad in 1918.

But by the time the Pine Ridge fire happened and they were moving everything out of there in 1940, a note at the end of the Forest Lbr. chapter says they have two locomotives there that they needed to move out. These would probably be the Shay and the Lima 4-6-0 since they were both sold the same year to different logging companies.

I'm curious to know if it might have been advertised somewhere when and if Forest Lumber sold off any of its assets, including railroad equipment, between 1929 and 1939, and 1940 when they were done ripping up the Calimus Marsh logging line out of Kirk and the Pine Ridge spurs....