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Old Blue Steam Engine Pulls Four Logging Cars

In the late 1800’s, Klamath County acquired Old Blue, its first railroad steam locomotive.

On arrival at the Southern Pacific Railroad line from Santa Monica, Calif., a six-horse team of horses pulled the little blue-colored engine in a wagon up a crude road and around steep sharp turns to a logging site.

Engineer Bud Inman, brakeman Ed Way and Walter Inman ran the tiny railroad.   Pulling four logging cars behind it, Old Blue carried the logs by rail from the log cutting site to a dumping chute. 

The locomotive ran on standard gauge track made by an English firm, the Rhymney Steel Company, because U.S. foundries did not yet have the ability to forge long pieces of rail from steel.  A small chip placed under the center wheel helped hold the engine on the track on steep grades.

What happened to Old Blue after retirement remains a mystery.  In 1912, a resident reported seeing it parked in a clump of pines by a blacksmith shop.  Its tracks were scrapped for junk in the 1940’s.  The Klamath County Museum displays Old Blue’s nameplate and two rusted pieces of rail.

 

Sources: Helfrich, Devere. Klamath Echoes. Klamath Falls, OR: Klamath County Historical Society, 1966. 22-61. Ser. 3. Print; Avery-Page, Nora. "19th century rail piece evokes logging boom." Washington Times, LLC 5 Dec. 2014. Web. 11 Sept. 2016.

Luana (Loffer) Corbin graduated from Southern Oregon College, majoring in Elementary Education.  The summer after graduation she was hired to teach at Ruch Elementary, where she taught for 32 years. After retiring, Corbin worked for Lifetouch School Photography and then returned to Ruch as an aide helping with reading instruction and at the library.  More recently, she has volunteered at South Medford High.