During a recent trip to the Pacific Northwest I visited the Columbia River Gorge Interpretive Center in Stevenson, Washington. Housed in an ultra-modern glass and concrete building, the museum contains excellent exhibits on the nature and history of the area. But what really grabbed me about the place was the heavy equipment sitting out back and the early gas-powered saws tucked under a staircase inside. I referred to the outdoor storage areas as a boneyard because most of the equipment there will never run again. Some of it will find its way into exhibits at this or some other museum, and a few may be scavenged for parts. The rest will remain out back, unlabeled and un-curated, but not unloved—as long as people who are into machines show up to look at them. If you are ever anywhere near Stevenson, WA (on the Columbia River just upstream from the Bonneville Dam) it's worth stopping in at the museum.

A donkey engine is a “portable” winch (usually steam-powered) loggers used to drag and lift logs. There would have been heavy wooden skids bolted to the I-beams on the bottom of this one, and after being hauled into the forest the engine could use its own cable and winch to drag itself to different locations. First used in shipping and mining, donkey engines were adapted to logging in the early 1880s. If you’re a fan of the History Channel show, Ax Men, then you’ve seen the Rygaard Crew use a yarder to drag or carry logs uphill along an elevated cable. A yarder is the modern equivalent of a donkey engine.

A donkey engine is a “portable” winch (usually steam-powered) loggers used to drag and lift logs. There would have been heavy wooden skids bolted to the I-beams on the bottom of this one, and after being hauled into the forest the engine could use its own cable and winch to drag itself to different locations. First used in shipping and mining, donkey engines were adapted to logging in the early 1880s. If you’re a fan of the History Channel show, Ax Men, then you’ve seen the Rygaard Crew use a yarder to drag or carry logs uphill along an elevated cable. A yarder is the modern equivalent of a donkey engine.

Credit: David Frane

This 1951 Caterpillar D8 was converted to a yarder. A stayed tower (spar) would have extended up from the machine and been connected by cable to a tree or stump some distance away. Felled logs would have been connected to a carriage on the cable and then winched up to the yarder and loaded onto a truck for transport.

This 1951 Caterpillar D8 was converted to a yarder. A stayed tower (spar) would have extended up from the machine and been connected by cable to a tree or stump some distance away. Felled logs would have been connected to a carriage on the cable and then winched up to the yarder and loaded onto a truck for transport.

Credit: David Frane

Bill Lyons logging donated this machine to the museum.

Bill Lyons logging donated this machine to the museum.

Credit: David Frane

Stationary engines, like this one from Le Roi, were used to power generators, pumps, and even small saw mills. The engine was bolted to skids and hauled to where it needed to be. At that point the machine to be powered was connected by belt to a flywheel or pulley on the back of the engine. This engine was manufactured in Milwaukee and is missing a radiator and perhaps a housing. Le Roi started making engines in 1913 and was in business until the late 1950s.

Stationary engines, like this one from Le Roi, were used to power generators, pumps, and even small saw mills. The engine was bolted to skids and hauled to where it needed to be. At that point the machine to be powered was connected by belt to a flywheel or pulley on the back of the engine. This engine was manufactured in Milwaukee and is missing a radiator and perhaps a housing. Le Roi started making engines in 1913 and was in business until the late 1950s.

Credit: David Frane