roots of motive power


Roots of Motive Power’ Climax Locomotive. The third type of North American geared locomotives and the first to be posted here. From the Roots’ website:

Engine #4 was build for Holmes Eureka Lumber Company in 1922 by Climax Manufacturing of Corry, Pennsylvania and carries builder’s number 1621. The engine was sold to Pacific Lumber of Scotia, California in 1937, where it was retired in 1954. Bert and Ferne Rudolph of Willits acquired the engine in 1955 and brought it to Willits, where it was kept until acquired by The Roots of Motive Power in 1990. The engine has been restored and was operated by the Roots of Motive Power as recently as 1993 during our “School Days” demonstrations.

The locomotive is a two-truck geared engine with about 200 horsepower capable of 26,400 lbs traction at 200 pounds steam pressure. The unit is operated at about 50 pounds pressure today.

A long way from operational this locomotive has been moved into the shop for a complete overhaul to fix the aforementioned 50 lbs of working pressure it has been limited to. Hopefully they can restore this locomotive along with the Robert Dollar Shay


(via Baldwin 1910 2-6-2 pushes 1918 Shay into work house)


1924 Buffalo Springfield Steam Roller

This Coal fired steam roller is a perfect example of the dying steam engine markets of the late 20’s. The only reason an internal combustion motor is not fitted to this piece of mechanical beauty is that steam power, unlike internal combustion engines, produces almost full torque from start making jobs like road rolling much easier with steam power. It wasn’t until the 1930’s when internal combustion transmissions were advanced enough for road rolling applications that steam was dropped.

Spending most of its life in Des Moines, Iowa it was retired in the late 1930’s and somehow made it to California to be included in the Root’s of Motive Power collection in Willits. Here it is shown in fully restored condition at the Roots Steam Operation and Safety course, fired by wood instead of coal for the beginners that would be handling it.


The Dolbeer Steam Donkey is highly regarded as the first for purpose steam winch used in the pacific northwest when it was first patented in August of 1881. It’s design was purposefully made to handle the much larger Timber that is found in the Pacific Northwest, compared to the logging operations in the Eastern United States. It’s popularity was first noted when it could do the work of 20 oxen during it’s trial run, and could haul logs up to 20ft in Diameter. In the years that followed in the North West logging operations saw these logging donkeys grow to more than 4 or 5 spools.

This particular example can be found at the Mendocino County Museum in Willits, California. It is fully functional and has been carefully restored by the Roots of Motive Power.


(via 1916 Heisler two-truck steam locomotive comes in to take water)

Built in 1914 this is a much more refined version of the Heisler locomotive. Much like Roaring Camp Railroads #2 this locomotive also has a v-twin cylinder design that powers a centrally driven shaft and 8 coupled wheels. This locomotive however has a much more conventional boiler compared to the shorter wagon-top type on #2 and a much longer all weather cab.