Steam Up in the Mountains

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Geared steam engines? Yes! 3 different kinds.
Discover a “lost world” of steam railroading.

Steam Up in the Mountains

Meet the unique steam locomotives of America’s Logging Railroads.

Presented in 5.1 Dolby Surround-Sound.

This documentary is a great introduction to the world of geared steam engines.

Featuring the ONLY 5-locomotive, steam quintuple-header in North America in over 50 years!!

(All thanks to the amazing crews at the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad.)

NOTE: To even see 5 steam locomotives operating all at once in one place is extremely rare.

To couple them all together to pull one long train is a sight not-to-be-missed.
It’s all part of the fun in this unique documentary titled Steam Up in the Mountains.

In this film you’ll meet a special group of “steam wizards” who coax life out of rusty iron.
They’ll share insights and secrets about these mechanical marvels of the woods, the geared steam engines that were once part of our logging industry.

Summary:
In the early days of the 20th Century, the “loggers” who harvested the timber in our forests built a network of very treacherous railroads. Although the tracks stretched from coast to coast, they were not connected to each other. And they were practically invisible to most people.

They were built into and through the woods as fast as possible. The track was steep, sloppy, and uneven. Standard locomotives either slipped off the rails or rolled over into the mud…or worse.

A special “breed” of locomotive was needed. It had to be

  • powerful,
  • flexible,
  • affordable, and
  • dependable.

Did the locomotive manufacturers succeed?

Well ……..not exactly.
Just pick 2 ……and get ready for the ride of your life.

(You’ll see what we mean when you watch the show.)
The most popular geared engine in the woods was the "Shay" seen above.
3Lokies

The Secret Rosters of Railroad History Revealed

Several locomotive designs were developed by different manufacturers.

Competition in this “growth industry” was fierce. Some engines were odd-shaped …some featured gears …some featured rods …but most were never even seen by the public.

Steam Up in the Mountains takes you on an unforgettable journey of discovery.

Steam Up in the Mountains

PART ONE

is sub-titled Sorcerors on the Mountain.

It is a unique and fascinating type of individual that pursues a job description from the 19th century. Their stories emerge and are intertwined as we are introduced to the “men and machines” from logging’s age of steam.

  • see the differences in design and performance of the three different styles of geared engines
  • see the heritage and power behind five different restored steam locomotives
  • share insights from the skilled craftsmen involved in locomotive restorations.
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Above is a "Climax" geared locomotive made by the Climax Locomotive Co. of Cory, Pennsylvania
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Above are 2 rod-type logging locomotives. The one on the left was built by ALCO and the other by Baldwin

PART TWO

is sub-titled Lokies in the Woods.

“Lokie” is a affectionate term loggers called their steam engines. You’ll learn how the different engines were used, and how some came to be rescued from the woods at a time when most steam engines were being cut up for scrap metal. Interspersed are many scenes of the locomotives in operation.

You will also take a ride through the woods on a Fairmont “speeder”. Once a staple of every railroad, the speeder was used to transport track crews and light equipment up and down the lines to do repair work.

Speeders were noisy little gas-powered contraptions that now score high on “personality”. That is why clubs have formed around the country specifically devoted to their restoration…and their operation. We were fortunate enough to stumble upon just such an organization as they raced through the woods.

PART THREE

is sub-titled The Celebration of Steam.

Five steam locomotives all fired up at once is a site so rare that even the most avid rail fan may never see it!

It is certainly well over 50-years since this has happened anywhere in North America. In this 3rd part of the documentary you get a front row seat as we go both track-side and in the locomotive cabs to experience first-hand the amazing spectacle of a steam quintuple-header.

All five locomotives are shown pulling authentic old freight cars.

Suddenly, you will think you’re in the woods back in 1931, watching real working steam trains in action. You’ll see the Shay, the Heisler, the Climax, plus the Baldwin, and the Alco locomotives in action. Carefully staged and photographed in action to appear just as these locomotives did in their prime.

All courtesy of the dedicated crews of the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad and the Western Forest Industries Museum.

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Above a "Heisler" geared locomotive and a "Shay" recreate an authentic logging scene.

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