Shay Power Tour

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The most popular geared steam engine in North America was the “Shay.”


New Expanded Edition

Why was the Shay the most popular of the geared steam engines?
What exactly is a geared steam locomotive?

Shay What…???

Maybe you’ve never heard of the “Shay”?

During the first half of the 20th Century, the Shay became the most popular locomotive on North America’s rough and tumble logging railroads. But, being number one didn’t just happen over-night.

Logging railroads were put together in a hurry to transport big logs out of the woods,,,in a hurry. As the industry grew, these railroads went deeper and deeper into the woods. The track the loggers built was often steep and treacherous…too rugged for mainline engines.

They needed a locomotive that could take it.

The Logger’s Challenge

For many frustrating years steam locomotives were designed and redesigned to try and find a balance between power, economy, and dependability. Nothing worked very well until the Lima Locomotive Works perfected and marketed a geared-locomotive design by shop mechanic Ephram Shay.

It became the most popular locomotive in the woods.

(NOTE: You can learn all about the other kinds of geared-engines in our feature-length video STEAM UP IN THE MOUNTAINS).

It is interesting to note that the Lima Locomotive Company went on to design the beautiful orange and black Daylight Series of locomotives for the Southern Pacific. The success of their Shay locomotive helped them do that. But, that came later on. The Shay was their first major success.

From the first whistle to the last wisp of smoke, I WAS HOOKED!

Live Steam Magazine

I just got your new video (SHAY POWER TOUR) and watched it 3 times last night. Great job!



Outstanding (SHAY POWER TOUR). My kids and I loved it. Even my wife loved it.



So what made the Shay so special?

Shays featured a flexible line-shaft and geared drive mechanism running down one side of the locomotive.. They were often built-to-order according to the needs of the railroad placing the order.

Some Shays were small with only two powered wheel trucks. Others had three trucks. As you will learn in the video, the Mount Emily Shay is one of the larger Shays. It has three trucks and weighs over 90-tons.

The “Shay Life”: What you’ll see in this mini-documentary film.

SHAY POWER TOUR traces the history of the geared-locomotive known as the Mount Emily Lumber Company No.1 from her early logging days…into her retirement adventures that continue through this day.

The Perils of Emily

Twice No.1 was nearly destroyed…once by the scrapper’s cutting torch and once by a roundhouse fire. You’ll learn more about this in the video. You also learn how the Shay design was modified over the years. And you’ll see No.1 showing her stuff as she hauls a special log train.

The Mount Emily Shay recreates her past life in a scene from POWER TOUR.
Marvel at the pulling power of this 90-ton “beast of burden” as she demonstrates she still has the right stuff by hauling logs over an Oregon shortline (The City of Prineville Railway).

Bonus Movie Event: A Shay at the Races

Another special highlight of SHAY POWER TOUR are the tongue-in-cheek Shay Races from Railfair Sacramento. Old time state fairs used to do this kind of thing all the time…although somewhat more recklessly. Now you’ll delight to modern radar-precision time trials applied to these over-weight “drag racers.” (Top speed of a Shay is only about 15 mph!) Mount Emily’s challenger is the Graham County Shay No.25 from South Carolina. Join us in the winner’s circle.

Bi-Coastal Adventures

Mount Emily Shay No.1 has operated on both coasts. She spent over twenty years posing as “No.3 ” on the famous Cass Scenic Railroad in West Virgina before returning to her home territory in Oregon.You’ll see her in action as No.3.

Join the locomotive’s fireman on a tour of this technological oddity from America’s logging railroads.

Whether or not you are familiar with Lima’s Shay locomotive, we guarantee you will love being introduced to the historic Mount Emily Lumber Company’s first locomotive.

SHAY POWER TOUR is entertaining, fast-paced, and informative. Great for all ages. This DVD appeals to anyone with even only a casual interest in trains. You, too, will ask yourself, “When did the Shay get to be so much fun?!!”

About the Expanded Edition

The EXPANDED EDITION is like two shows on one DVD. It contains unseen material we had in the vault from the original week of photographic sessions. All this we carefully edited together to give the experience of a cab ride on a working Shay.

So we titled it

“A Day In A Shay.”

If you’ve ever wanted a quick escape from today’s trials, you can now do it by “climbing into the cab” as we travel through the forests to the far end of the line.

There we will pick up a few loaded log cars (plus a caboose) and bring them back to the logging camp.

Of course, A Day In A Shay doesn’t spend all of its 65-minutes in the cab.

There are plenty of runby sequences, and lots of different camera perspectives including shots from the caboose.

There is also a stop to water up the tender from a mountain stream. You’ll see all the things that had to be done by the crews as they hauled logs on the old logging railroads.

We also get to see some historic color footage of a 70-ton Willamette geared-engine…#4 …on the last day of railroad operations at the Mount Emily Lumber Company in 1955.

A Day in a Shay, plus the re-mastered original mini documentary described above is included on the Expanded Edition of SHAY POWER TOUR DVD

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