The Lumberjack Steam Train brings passengers from the tiny town of Laona to the Camp 5 Museum. I had the pleasure of spending a day with the folks at the Laona & Northern Railway which operates in woods of northern Wisconsin.

The Lumberjack Steam Train Crew

Lumberjack Steam Train

The Lumberjack Steam Train crew was expecting me as I rolled up to the big green engine house at 7 AM on a hot summer morning. Inside, #4, the Vulcan 2-6-2, built in 1916, sat over the inspection pit, waiting for another day of work.

Pete, the engineer, and Davey, the fireman, quickly got started. Davey invited me and my camera into the cab as he began the firing process. First, newspapers, then cardboard entered the firebox, then kindling wood from a pile outside the building. A torch was used to light the newspapers, and soon dark smoke was traveling through the smoke vent on the roof of the building. Davey shoveled the first of the coal into the firebox. As the fire consumed its fuel, the smell changed from paper and wood to the unmistakable smell of coal.

While waiting for steam pressure to build, Davey continued the morning ritual by greasing and lubricating the engine. Working around the engine, grease was forced into fittings to keep the locomotive’s parts operating efficiently.

Shovel more coal.

Now it’s time to clean the engine. Hoses and brushes were used from top to bottom. The cab was hosed and wiped down. The water being sprayed inside the building onto the the hot locomotive made for a pretty sight through the large open door.

Shovel more coal. Pressure’s coming up.

More lubrication. More wiping.

Time to move out into the sun. Pete slowly backed the engine from the building as my cameras recorded the scene. Back inside the engine house I set my camera at the far end of the pit. The pit, the water on the floor, and the engine just outside in the sun….wow!

As #4 basked in the morning sunlight, more wiping, ash was cleaned, and the first Lumberjack Steam Train visitors began arriving. Soon a crowd gathered to see the locomotive, pose in front of it, and to the delight of the kids, pull a cord strung outside the engine to blow the whistle.

Operating the Lumberjack Steam Train

Finally, train time for the Lumberjack Steam Train. The locomotive pulls a short train of coaches and cabooses to Camp 5. Camp 5 is an interactive museum which interprets the logging industry of Wisconsin. Visitors will see historic logging equipment, railroad equipment, buildings and structures, all relating to what would have existed at a typical logging camp. There are also farm related exhibits, including a former slaughterhouse, because logging camps were largely self sufficient. (Vertically integrated in modern terms). Kids will enjoy the farm animals, tractor pulled wagon rides to the outlying areas of the site, and the food stand. The grown ups will be interested in the museums, exhibits, short film presentations, and some shopping opportunities.

Meanwhile the Lumberjack Steam Train comes and goes all day, and its sounds contribute to the atmosphere.

Pete and Davey were gracious hosts, and truly love their jobs. The day was very hot, and they were quite covered with soot by the last trip. I set up one of my cameras through the rear door of the engine house to record #4 as it rolled over the pit.

Beautiful! And now you can share this experience of the Lumberjack Steam Train on our new DVD, Wisconsin Steam Stories.

Thanks, Steve Mitchell – Yard Goat Images

Lumberjack Steam Train

DVD – Wisconsin Steam Stories