[Gazette] Timberroads – Details, Prototypes, References

Posted by Gerd on Friday, 21 May 2021

Hi folks,

I got some requests about references and details for timber roads. Therefore I made this gazette issue with the details I researched. I posted references to the websites where I got my info from and also hints to other books to this topic.

I came to this type of railroad during research of a prototype loco of my Toma Shay in Hon30. Actually, wooden rails were not new to me, but I never spend so many research before.

Anyway, while looking for 13 Ton Shays as my Toma Shay, I found the following photos.

Lima Shop# 172 – “Bishop Lumber Co.”

Lima Shop# 174 – “Jones, S. A. & Son”

Lima Shop# 191 – “Dixon Sawmill”

Lima Shop# 289 – “Leavitt & Leavitt #4”

Lima Shop# 628 – “Warnell Lumber & Veneer Co. #2”

These locos operated on wooden rails as can be seen on the photos or found in the description of Lima records. For use on wooden rails, such locos were equipped with extra wide tires and deep flanges, which are good visible on Shay #174.

Based on the loco above, I spend some more research at www.shaylocomotives.com and www. gearedsteam.com, resulting in the following list of Lima shop numbers. Judging by records or photographs, these locos operated on wooden rails.

#57, #89, #168, #172, #174, #191, #196, #254, #289, #290, #300, #403, #434, #433, #439, #469, #477, #516, #617, #628

Most of such locos were 13 ton classes. #57 might be the smallest with 7 tons while biggest loco weights 17 tons (#628). Gauge varies between 30″ and std.gauge (#191).
A special loco is #254, which is listed with 60″ gauge and seems to be build for operation on so pole-roads, which used full logs instead of sawn timber for rails. Usually, this was a territory for Climax locos and not for Shays.

But how about the tramroad timber rails? Here I found a good article about the D. H. Eastin & Company.

This railroad used tiny Shay #57 and operated for approx. 10 years. The link above features some photos which shows details on the track as well. Halfway down the article is a photo of a small section of track which has survived into our times and gives detailed information. The rails were made of two layers of hardwood timbers, each 2×5″, bolted on top of each other with overlap. Usually, there were wooden bolts and pins used, to avoid damage to the wheels. This results in a 4″ high and 6″ wide rail head. On some railroads, stripes of thin metal were added on top of the timber rails. Even turnouts were not uncommon with timber rails. Remember the D.H.Eastin&Co above, which operated several switchbacks on their railroad. Most timber turnouts wer21e built as stub-switches and often with switchable frogs. Unfortunately, I only found very few photos in books, which cannot be shared here.

For more details and information, I can recommend the book series “Railroading in the Carolina Sandhills”, which features many small tramroads like the “Yellow Pine Lbr.Co.”.

If you have further questions, feel free to ask, Maybe I can help.
Bye, Gerd


  • Thomas Pahlke says:

    Wow, danke für Deine Recherche, an die Du uns teilhaben ließ. Echt klasse, die Bilder und die Webseiten. Ich wußte nicht dass es Holzschienen gab, geschweige denn Baumstämme als Schienen. Ja, ja die USA das Land der unbegrenzten Möglichkeiten. Nochmal danke für diesen interessanten Artikel mit äußerst interessanten Links.

  • John-abouna D'Alton says:

    Very interesting, many thanks for the research. (Sehr interesant, vielen dank).

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