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Logging Lessons

Tags: logging
Series: Logging Lessons

Last week, we learned about using steam donkey engines to transport logs from the forest floor to a central staging area. This week, we’ll learn about a railroad staging area and the use of ”jammers” or ”loaders” to load logs onto railroad cars.

Potlatch Jammer [1]
Potlatch Jammer [1]

“Logging jammers played an important role in the timber industry in North Idaho. One of the most efficient and economical methods of skidding and loading logs onto trucks and railroad cars was the jammer. A machine was placed over the track and lifted logs onto the cars. As the logging industry moved into the rugged mountains of the west, jammers became more mobile. The machinery was often placed on a truck frame with a boom and cables that could skid logs up to 400 yards away.”1

“Two types of log loaders were owned by the company - both were easily transported. The McGiffert loader is made to run on the railroad track when moving between landings. At the landing the wheels swing up and out of the way allowing the empty cars to run under it. Once loaded, the next empty car is pulled forward and the loaded car moves ahead. The McGiffer loader costs $2800.”2

“The Marion loader is one that runs on tracks that are mounted on the cars themselves. The earlier model was officially known as the Slide A-88 which propelled itself on a sliding shoe backward on flat cars. The name was unofficially changed to just plain ‘Slide-Ass.’ The use period of the Marion on flat cars was short due to the light construction of the cars and structural damage that resulted through extended use. The Marion found work at ground sites, log ponds, rail reloading points and log transfer stations.”2

Fun fact: the Museum of North Idaho possesses one of the first log jammers built in the Coeur d’Alene area!1

Potlatch Jammer [2]
Potlatch Jammer [2]
Marion Loader
Marion Loader


Photos courtesy of the Potlatch Historical Society Collection

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