McCloud River Railroads: Equipment
Lidgerwood Skidder

Logging came in many different forms and functions, depending on topography, available equipment, and operator preference. One of the constants in the industry is the need to transport logs from the stump to the landing, a central point to which logs would be brought for loading onto trains and then later trucks for the trip to the mill. The McCloud River Lumber Company used ground skidding and yarding systems through most of its history, in which animal, steam, and then internal combustion machines would drag logs across the ground. High lead logging systems on the other hand used elevated cables routed from a donkey engine through blocks on the top of a tower to drag logs partially on the ground or through the air into the landing. The "towers" normally employed in high lead systems were trees around the landing that were limbed, topped, and then rigged with guy wires and the hauling lines run out to anchor points scattered throughout the logging setting.

In 1882 the Lidgerwood Manufacturing Company of Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York, added a tower skidder to their extensive line of construction and industrial equipment. Lidgerwood tower skidders carried their own steel towers built into the machines, which simplified their set up and operations. The company built the first of its skidders for Michigan loggers, and the technology spread to the west coast by 1904. All told a little more than one hundred Lidgerwood skidders would eventually be used on the west coast, most built by Puget Sound Iron & Steel Works in Tacoma, Washington, under license from Lidgerwood. Willamette Iron & Steel Works and Washingto Iron Works also built similar machines.

The McCloud River Lumber Company purchased a new Lidgerwood skidder from Puget Sound Iron & Steel Works as part of investments made as it secured its future with the Bear Creek sale. Pacific Car & Foundry constructed the carrying car and shipped it to Puget Sound Iron & Steel on 1 February 1924. The McCloud machine was c/n 3012 and was equipped with a 12X14 engine and an 85-foot tall tower and rode on four trucks. Like most Lidgerwoods McCloud's model was equipped with both high and ground skidding lead capabilities, had a heal boom on one end that could load cars, and could be set up in the same manner as the McGiffert loaders with the frame open as a tunnel over tracks so that empty log cars could pass underneath the machine.

McCloud put the machine to work upon its arrival and reserved the best stands of the trees for it. However, in 1926 a U.S. Forest Service employee monitoring the company's logging in the USFS Lava Beds sale noted the Lidgerwood produced fewer logs per man than the steam donkeys also in use; the Lidgerwood with a crew of 25 men had a maximum output of 125M (M being 1,000 board feet) per day, while the boom equipped steam donkeys with a crew of 18 men working in inferior timber stands yarded and loaded 75-80 M per day. The same employee also noted "The Lidgerwood skidder is the most destructive form of logging the McCloud Company has tried out. it is fully as bad as high lead logging. This machine has the advantage over the high lead, that it can be used with little damage to timber left standing if the crew will take the trouble necessary."

The Lidgerwood remained in McCloud until 1934, though it's not certain how much use it saw after tractors replaced the steam machines in yarding in 1927-1928. McCloud sold the machine to Crown Willamette Paper Company (Washington Pulp & Paper Company), Neah Bay, Washington, who lengthened tower to 100 feet. Crown in turn sold it on 4 October 1946 to V.C. Monahan, d.b.a. Cabin Creek Lumber Company, for scrap.

The carrying car at Pacific Car & Foundry immediately prior to its shipment to Puget Sound Iron & Steel Works. Pacific Northwest Virtual Logging Data Center.

A second view of the carrying car at the PC&F factory. Pacific Northwest Virtual Logging Data Center.

The Lidgerwood set up and working in 1926. Roland Edwards photo, courtesy Marilyn Rountree.

A partial side view of the Lidgerwood. Roland Edwards photo, courtesy Marilyn Rountree.

Another view of the Lidgerwood showing most of the tower. Roland Edwards photo, courtesy Marilyn Rountree.

One last view of the Lidgerwood at work. Hertige Junction Museum of McCloud, Inc.