Some significant progress has been made this winter on one of the Coos History Museum’s premier outdoor exhibits. Several volunteers were led by Lionel Youst, a local historian from Allegany, who grew up around logging operations in Oregon and Washington. Under Youst’s directions, volunteers have installed a short “skid road” behind the Dolbeer spool steam donkey on the museum’s south plaza and laid in-place a 12-ft. long, 3000 lb. log partially on those skids. The log was placed in a dramatic way that makes it look like it is being dragged in from the museum’s western bioswale.
Youst purchased new cable and hooked it up the proper way onto the spool of the donkey so that visitors will have a better understanding of how the system worked. Unbelievably, Youst also found and purchased a set of never-before-used “log dogs” on Ebay, that were made in 1925, in their original packaging, which were hammered into the log and chained up to the bridle of the donkey’s cable.
The machine owned by Coos History Museum was built in 1902 by Marschutz & Cantrell of San Francisco under a Dolbeer patent and shipped to Simpson Logging Company in North Bend. It was first used at their camp on Blue Ridge and subsequently at various Simpson camps on Coos River and Daniels Creek. In 1905 Pierce sold it to Jack McDonald who formed a partnership with William Vaughn under the name of McDonald and Vaughn Logging Company. It remained in use by Vaughn and the Coos Bay Logging Company until 1950. It was the last such spool donkey in use in the state and perhaps in the nation.
In 1950, William Vaughan donated the steam donkey to the Coos County Historical Society. A new log sled was then built and donated by the Menasha Corporation of North Bend in 1994. The exhibit stood outside at the museum in North Bend until moved to its current location in Coos Bay in 2015.
In the spring, hundreds of 5th grade students annually visit the Coos History Museum through the education program under the guidance of CHS Education Director Amy Pollicino. The students will enjoy counting the rings of the log to determine its age and more fully understand the physics and vocabulary of old-time logging.
-Steve Greif and Lionel Youst
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