1004676396 SOHS 01217 Klamath Loggers in boat.jpg
The Blue Ledge Copper Mine was in the Applegate River valley. This photo was taken circa 1890. (Courtesy of Southern Oregon Historical Society, image No. 01217)

As It Was: Logging machine walked up and down hills

Many early-day logging companies around the world used a curious looking piece of equipment called a “Walking Dudley,” described as a power car on rails.

The machine was said to have been invented by longtime-logger Sol Simpson of Washington state. In some areas it was used to pull itself, or “walk,” up an incline or down hills by means of a big cable wrapped several times around a large wheel that was powered by a steam engine.

In the late 1890s, Siskiyou and Klamath County loggers along the Klamath River used their own version of the machine built by the Willamette Iron and Steel Company of Portland. This Walking Dudley consisted of a vertical steam engine mounted on a flat car that moved by means of a winch and cable.

The Walking Dudley helped move logs down a 2,650-foot chute into the Klamath River by straddling the log chute at the top. The Walking Dudley would give reluctant logs a nudge to start their journey down the long chute and into the river to float to the sawmill — a spectacular sight to see..

Sources: Clauder, Donald S. “Klamath Lake Railroad.” The Western Railroader, Mar. 1964 , pp. 1-8; Helfrich, Devere. Pokegama. Vol. 3, Klamath Falls, OR, Klamath County Historical Society, 1966, pp. 16-21; McCullough, Walter F. Woods Words. Oregon Historical Society and Champoeg Press, 1958, https://archive.org/stream/./woodswordscompre00mccu_djvu.txt. Accessed 15 May 2017; “Walking Dudley Logging Locomotive.” West Vancouver Memorial Library, digital.westvanlibrary.ca/results?fsu=Walking%20Dudley%20(logging%20locomotive). Accessed 15 May 2017.

As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at asitwas.org.

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