I started out at Sumpter Valley 15 years ago as a Fireman on W. H. Eccles No. 3, a 40 ton Heisler built in 1915. It didn't take me long to realize I was taking advantage of a unique opportunity to learn about narrow gauge railroading and be part of the engine crew on a working steam locomotive. Most railfans dream of someday sitting at the throttle of a full sized train, and for a few of us does this comes true. After a couple years firing No. 3, I made the switch to the engineer's seat.
Then, in 1996, restoration of SVRY 19 was completed and she shared the duties of hauling passengers with No. 3. That year I started training as fireman on the 19 and it was like starting all over again going from firing with wood to firing with oil. The change was from firing with one's back to firing with one's head. The next season, comfortable with the duties of a fireman, I again moved into the engineer's seat and in 1998 I qualified as engineer. It's a lot of work getting an 85 year old locomotive lubed, inspected, fired up, and ready to go. And, of course, it's a wonderful experience sitting at the throttle as the train pulls out of the depot with a load of passengers, many experiencing their very first train ride. I feel like I'm living a dream.
Sumpter Valley Railroad has an excellent web site at www.svry.com They have some great pictures of the recently rebuilt 2-8-2 No. 19 as well as other information about the railroad. And a friend, Matt, who I introduced to Sumpter Valley a couple seasons ago, has an excellent page of pictures of current operations on his web site.
Rather than duplicate the images on the two sites noted above, I have searched my archives for pictures of Sumpter Valley Railroad during the days when the Heisler was the main (and only) attraction.
|W. H. Eccles Lumber Heisler No. 3. Built in 1915, this 40 ton, three truck geared locomotive was acquired new and operated in the woods between Baker and Prairie City until the late 1920's. It was sold to Hallack & Howard Lumber (later to become part of Boise-Cascade) in Cascade, Idaho. She returned to Baker, Oregon in the fall of 1971 and was restored to operation on the Sumpter Valley Restoration Railroad rails in June, 1976. She hauled excursion trains for the next 20 years and is now undergoing extensive rebuilding at the railroad shops at McEwan.|
||Front view of No. 3 as she reposes in
the McEwan depot
between runs. The plume of steam coming from the pipe in front of the stack is from the dynamo. Also, note the variable position coupler mount -- necessary to deal with varying coupler heights found on narrow gauge cars from various railroads.
|The Heisler and the excursion train ready to leave EcEwan depot on the first passenger run over the newly laid extension into the town of Sumpter. This was on a very cold, snowy April day in 1991.|
|No. 3 with a revenue train on a nice summer day. The railroad lacks a turning facility at the Sumpter end of the run (one is in the planning stages) so one way of each run, the locomotive must run in reverse. Oh, and yes, that's me at the throttle.|
||I'm on the left at the throttle. On the right is Jerry Hellinga, my friend and engineer instructor.|
|The Heisler Experience||A look back at running the Heisler in 1992 when it was the
working steam locomotive on the Sumpter Valley Railway. 27
pictures with text on three pages.
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