1910 Phoenix Log Hauler

1910 Phoenix Log Hauler

Ray Smolik on the front and Ed Smolik standing in the cab! Photo was taken probably late 1950s when they brought it to show it off at the Mitchell County Fair. It's very unusual to even have photos of Ed & Ray on it in the early days!

The 1910 Phoenix Log Hauler was built with a 100 h.p. 4 cylinder engine. This unique steam engine, #60, was manufactured in 1910 at Eau Claire, WI for the Big River Lumber Company, which later became The Pas Lumber Company of The Pas, Manitoba, Canada. It was one of five owned by the company and designed to easily pull 20 sleds loaded with logs. One of these engines could haul 50,000-75,000 board feet of lumber. The track laying design, more commonly known as caterpillar tracks, made it possible for the logging companies in the Upper Midwest and central Canada to operate year round with large wheeled carts in the summer and sleds in the winter. The engine crew consisted of three. The steersman, on the front, would send signals to the engineer by ringing a bell operated by a rope along the side of the boiler. The engineer would start, stop and reverse based on the number of bell rings and blow the whistle to alert workers that the sleds would be moving. The fireman stoked the fire and kept the steam pressure in the boiler at its peak. No form of brakes were ever developed. Period advertising boasted "Travel 5 miles per hour, Consume 1 1/4 Ton of Coal in 10 hours."

In 1903, Phoenix Manufacturing Company entered a licensing agreement for the track design with the developer, Alvin O. Lombard of Maine. Phoenix continued to improve on the design until around 1920 when the internal combustion engine led to steam power being phased out. Of over one hundred of these engines there were only four known to be operational survivors.

In the mid 1950's, Ed Smolik heard of this engine and traveled to Canada in search of it. There were no roads to the Carrot River lumber settlement located about 70 miles up the frozen river. Ed found his prize even though it was in pieces, the boiler was remarkable. "Smooth as glass" according to Ed. He made arrangements to have the engine hauled out of this deep Canadian wilderness to Hudson Bay Junction for more conventional transporting to the United States. This 1910 Phoenix Log Hauler operated for many years at Antique Acres before being donated to the Mitchell County Historical Society by Ray, Ed and Evelyn Smolik and is now part of the permanent Smolik Exhibit at Cedar Valley Memories.

The 1910 Phoenix Log Hauler was featured as the 1st, in a series of 8, limited special event postal cancelations at the 5th Annual Cedar Valley Memories Power Show in 2000.

Cancelation drawing by Lori Mark