The Timber Heritage Association has been collecting timber related artifacts for almost thirty years. The time period represented in the collection is the 1870s through the 1960s with the predominance coming from the last two decades of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century.
The collection is located at ten different sites. Since loss of the Glendale storage site, the bulk of the artifacts were moved to Humboldt Bay Forest Products property in Fields Landing and the Boiler Shop and Roundhouse which are part of the historic Samoa Shops complex. The Arcata & Mad River diesel, a large A & MRR speeder, a lumber car and a caboose body are stored at Humboldt Flakeboard in Arcata. A former Pacific Lumber Company steam locomotive is stored on a siding on the Wilmington & Western tourist railroad in Wilmington, Delaware. Miscellaneous parts to the locomotive are stored in a THA owned container at the restoration facility where the locomotive will be moved shortly in Strasburg, Pennsylvania. A heavyweight passenger car is stored at Simpson Timber Company’s Brainard plant (Arcata). Some smaller items and archival items are stored at the Samoa Cookhouse. In addition several items are on loan to other museums and entities. A log car, riding car, steam donkey, log arch and rail material are on loan to Fort Humboldt State Historic Park. The Association’s operable Clyde Track Layer is on loan to the Roots of Motive Power museum in Willits. Several other smaller items are on loan to the Samoa Cookhouse and the Eureka Chamber of Commerce.
A significant aspect of the collection is that it is all local. Most museums begin collecting artifacts when the museum is created. On a tour of the excellent High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon, the docent mentions that this artifact was from California, this from Washington, etc. The proposed Timber Heritage Museum has the advantage of having begun the collection thirty years before the museum will begin to display them. The collection began when valuable artifacts were more readily available. At the same time, since timber was such a major, large industry locally, the artifacts are also representative of all western timber history. Many of these artifacts are significant and unique. Several artifacts at Fort Humboldt State Historic Park will be mentioned here though they are not owned by the Association. The Logging Exhibit located there, as previously mentioned, is “temporary.” If a substantial Timber Heritage Museum is established locally, it is possible and has been mentioned informally, the State’s collection might be merged with the THA collection. The two small, early locomotives are very significant artifacts. Their design was patented by a local inventor, John Dolbeer in 1883. They are the only locomotives still in existence that were built by Marshutz & Cantrell of San Francisco. These are examples of the type of locomotives first used on logging railroads in the west. They both are operable and are therefore among only a small number of locomotives that ancient which still operate. In the entire United States and Canada, only 11 locomotive operate that are older than the 1884 Elk River Mill & Lumber Co. No.1 and only 14 are older than Bear Harbor Lumber Co. No. 1. The latter operates with its original lap seam boiler; very few, if any, locomotives carry that distinction. The park has several Dolbeer steam donkeys; there are a number of these in museums but these are unique in that they were invented here. THA’s Clyde Track Layer is an example of many devices invented to make tasks associated with logging faster. This machine, built by a company in Duluth, Minnesota, was purchased by logging companies all over the world. Only two are still in existence, however, and this remaining machine is the only one that operates. THA’s CAT 60 tractor was one of six purchased by Hammond Lumber Company in 1928 to experiment with a new form of logging, tractor logging. THA has an unusual Heisler locomotive that was turned into a diesel by a local lumberman. This type of innovation characterized the local lumber industry. Two of the locomotives in the THA collection were owned by Hammond Lumber Co. and frequented the Samoa roundhouse; No. 15 was regularly housed there and was used on the mainline haul between Crannell and Samoa.