Steam Power Sawmill

A fascinating exploration of a steam powered sawmill “lost” in time.

And, you’ll learn how the best forest management helps to keep producing lumber without running out of wood!

Explore ancient technology and modern logging in

Steam Power Sawmill_cover

Steam-Power Sawmill

An action-packed look at an industrial survivor.

The sawmill that time forgot.

Presented in awesome 5.1 Dolby Surround-Sound.

From the beautiful mountain peaks
…through the lush forests
…down to the stream running by this rugged old sawmill
…there has never been a video quite like Steam-Power Sawmill.

Mystified journalists didn’t know what to expect:

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I received this video, but I must rate it one of the more fascinating I have reviewed. It is fast-paced, informative, and educational. Great narration. Well done and entertaining.

Heimberger Press

S Gaugian Magazine

Fascinating. The photography is nothing short of spectacular. A one-of-a-kind presentation well worth the price. This is a video to watch again and again.

Live Steam Magazine

Screaming machines, gut instinct, quick decisions… and steam power.

Hidden away in the lush forest of Oregon’s Coastal Range is a 1930’s-era sawmill almost untouched by time. Every morning the steam whistle of the feisty Hull-Oakes Lumber Company echoes off the nearby trees. The vintage steam-powered equipment is again fired-up to process old-fashioned long and large timber of Douglas fir for the world market.

Welcome to the world of the STEAM-POWER SAWMILL and the last commercial mill still operating in all of North America. This is not a little one-man operation, but rather a large complex that never gave up on using steam to power its equipment.

STEAM-POWER SAWMILL is a unique documentary taking you on something like an industrial archeological expedition. This feature length film explores all the details of this intricate mill.

Starting from the old log pond where floating logs are sorted, you’ll follow along through the mill into the yard where the finished lumber is loaded onto rail cars for shipment.

Everything at this mill is from another era. Whether it is the steam engines and boilers …or the old straddle-carriers that scoot around the lumber yard, STEAM-POWER SAWMILL will show you a technology you may have never known existed. You’ll even crawl underneath for rare views of the mill works.

Surprisingly entertaining and educational. Available on DVD in 5.1 Surround Sound

This is a real industrial-strength passport to another time…and another place.


Steam-Power Sawmill has turned out to be one of our most popular videos.

It is loved by all ages.

Kids come away understanding that our forests are a natural resource that must be taken care of. They also see just how much work goes into getting lumber into their local hardware store.

Historians have used Steam-Power Sawmill for archival purposes to preserve forgotten industrial activities and to foster greater understanding of the history behind our logging industry.

Hobbyists have used it as a constant reference.

Teachers have written us saying they use the video as a kind of rainy-day reward for their students. It is educational, yet it is fun.

People who needed a completely unique gift have written back to say how Steam-Power Sawmill was such a hit…they had never received anything quite like it. They are usually telling us this when they call to order more copies. (Now that’s customer satisfaction!).

Menu Chapters for the DVD that make it easy to choose a special part of the show. This is especially helpful for

  • teachers
  • kids
  • historians
  • model builders

But, what should really knock your socks off is the 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound.
It sounds so real…you’ll be wondering why there isn’t sawdust pouring out of your speakers.

(Of course, if you play it too loud, there will be! But, please don’t blame us for that!)

If you turn up your sound system (especially a 5.1 Surround Sound system),
it will feel like you are really there,…

  • on the old freight train
  • at the logging site in the woods
  • in the meadow where the young trees are growing

And then…

  • right there inside the old mill
  • by the log pond where “log broncs” sort logs
  • in the boiler room where they make the steam to run the mill
  • underneath the mill where it looks like the catacombs of some gothic, science-fiction machine

And finally…

  • into the lumberyard where you’ll see the quaint 1930’s-era straddle carriers (still being used)
  • how the lumber is prepped and loaded onto the old train for shipment around the world.

Every time you watch it you’ll see something new. It is definitely one you will watch again and again….and one you will be sharing with your friends.

The whole Steam-Power Sawmill project was a lucky set of circumstances and truly a labor of love.

This DVD I am very proud to offer to you.

Rob Simpson

Here’s what people have told us about Steam-Power Sawmill:

I recently purchased your STEAM-POWER SAWMILL video. I was so impressed with it that I just had to send this letter of thanks for a job well done. …The production was well planned out, especially the sawmill scenes…very educational and a great pleasure to watch. …a real eye-openeer. There’s hardly anything else out on the market that comes close.



I have over 80 videos in my private collection with train content. The one exception is Steam-Power Sawmill. This is one of my favorites. The entire video was educational and informative. I enjoyed it from beginning to end.



Steam-Power Sawmill is fascinating. Historically resonant. This is a wonderful offering from Golden Rail Video.

TRAINS Magazine

Steam-Power Sawmill is outstanding. Beautifully filmed. Don’t miss this video.

Narrow Gauge & Shortline Gazette

Steam-Power Sawmill is actually like having three videos in one.
Here’s why…

The Hull-Oakes Lumber Company in Oregon is one of the few places left on the planet that can process long and large logs of Douglas Fir into highly prized lumber …lumber that is sold all the world over. And it does so with steam power.

This video explores this mountain mill site as if you are on an archeological expedition uncovering forgotten secrets from another era.


Part ONE of Steam-Power Sawmill:
Climb aboard a 1st generation diesel train and ride the 100-year-old rail line through the forest into our industrial past.

The Hull-Oakes Lumber Company with its old buildings and sheds provide a frozen-in-time backdrop to the bustling lumberyard.

As you scan the activity, the mill’s fascinating history is revealed.

Part TWO:
You are whisked away to the high country to see contemporary logging in action. You’ll see

  • skyline riggings,
  • selective harvesting, and
  • the application of scientific forestry research which helps keep our planet’s only renewable resource strong.

Brings you back to the mill as the logs splash into the old-style log pond. You’ll follow them through the mill as they are turned into lumber, and finally onto the waiting freight cars.

You’ll also explore the dark “underworld” of the mill …a maze of belts and chains leading to the steam engines that run the equipment above.

There are so many amazing sights …from the boiler room …to the big log de-barker …to the old straddle carriers that scoot around the lumberyard.

Because there’s always something different to see, Steam-Power Sawmill is not only entertaining and educational, it is a video you will enjoy over and over again.

Even young children find it fascinating because it is like an adventure in the woods.


Why produce a video about an old sawmill????

“I think it was the little kid in me who used to love school field trips to farms and factories.”

“When I heard about this ancient mill, I just had to do something to preserve it while it was still there.”

Two friends I know from Oregon publish a magazine for historians called Timber Times. The magazines presents incredibly preserved pictures and stories from the early days of logging. They knew of a large commercial sawmill….hidden in the woods …one that was still running on steam power and still using ancient equipment.

That’s how I first heard of the Hull-Oakes Lumber Company.

I couldn’t believe it. Here was a money-making, all-commercial operation still using equipment that is usually only seen in some dusty museum.
And this was the last one of its kind.

As a photographer and video producer, I knew there was an incredible story going on here that needed to be told.


What I discovered was like uncovering an industrial King Tut’s Tomb… with people still alive and happy inside it!

It was like “industrial archeology.” Right here were buildings, equipment, and practices that had been preserved as if locked in a time-warp.

The operation had not been altered by computers, lasers, and other modern influences within the industry.

Somehow ancient back-woods practices had survived. And these old methods were still being handed down from one generation to the next.

It was all there…

The carriage rolling past the head rig slicing off new boards like sticks of soft butter.

People scrambling to adjust equipment on the fly…and then GET OUT OF THE WAY.

The edger man adjusting the spinning blades of the edger saw by hand.
The chain-driven “jump rolls” where the boards suddenly change direction and head to another part of the mill. A maze of amazement.

Nobody has a communications radio or is referring to a software manual at this place.
It’s all hand signals, human-controlled machinery, …and no-hesitation decisions.

Have you ever noticed that most day-to-day activities in our world seem so common or normal to us, often they don’t get documented?

The years go by… and little by little… things change. And no one really notices.

Suddenly, it dawns on everyone that no one can remember how something was done just two generations ago.

Traditions, techniques, and skills that were perfected by trial and error over many generations are suddenly lost.

“That is why I had to pack up my cameras and recording equipment, and head out to Oregon Territory. I just knew there were things going on there that would never happen again.

“But, nothing prepared me for the fascinating story I would find surrounding the Hull-Oakes Lumber Company.

“I hope you enjoy your video journey to this industrial relic as much as I did.”

Rob Simpson

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