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Camp 6 Logging Museum Train and More ~ June 9th, 2006

by Elizabeth Guenzler

After three days of rare mileage trips (described in the previous three travelogues), I wondered how this week could get any better. Chris Guenzler had invited me to join him, Chris Parker, Bob Riskie and Jim Nowell and others for their visit to the Camp 6 Logging Museum in Tacoma the next day. I immediately took him up on the offer so drove south on I-5 for the fourth day in a row and as I had time, stopped at the City of Puyallup and the City of Edgewood to acquire municipal lapel pins for my collection. Not being familiar with the area, I got lost on the way from Edgewood to Camp 6 but found my way and was very relieved not to be late.

Camp 6 Logging Museum

This museum was located on a 14-acre forested site inside Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, Washington. It was established in 1964 as the Camp Six Logging Exhibit by Western Forest Industries Museum, Inc. by members of the logging industry in Washington State. Camp 6 included a replica of an operating railroad connecting the working sites with the bunk houses and bunk cars of the camp. The museum was a National Registered Historic Place, and featured several historic buildings and over 500 tons of railroad and logging equipment. Many pieces of equipment were powered by steam.

The museum was last operated by the Tacoma Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society from 1989 to 2010, staffed by volunteers, and funded by individual and corporate donations.

Our Trip

Upon my arrival, I found three other people waiting and then the four intrepid travellers arrived. We went into the ticket office and were given the NRHS discount since it was operated by the local NRHS chapter, which I did not realize at the time.

My ticket for this morning's trip.

Point Defiance, Quanault and Klickitat Railroad Whitcomb 40133.

Our train at the station area.

Group photo of Philip Kondziela, John Pennington, Rick Bleak, Chris Parker, Bob Riskie, Jim Nowell and myself, with Chris Guenzler not pictured since he was taking the photograph.

Looking over the logs of our train as we pass the camphouse on wheels on tracks and a semaphore signal at the start of our ride.

Proceeding through the woods of Camp 6 on this unique journey.

The skidder at Point Defiance Park as seen from the train.

Northern Pacific loaded log car display.

A tank steam engine and camphouses on wheels display.

The Lidgerwood skidder. Our group was given a second consecutive train ride then we wandered the grounds to see what else was here.

Boxcar and fire train.

A skidder in front of the camphouses.

The camphouses on wheels that contain photographs and small artifacts.

A close-up view of a wheel/pulley at Camp 6.

Pacific Coast 90-ton Shay 7 (nee St. Regis Paper Company 7), built 1929, was stored in the engine house.

Here is the shay operating in August 1988. Photograph by James Booth.

Camp 6 Postscript

Camp 6 was closed December 2010 when public and private funding ran out and forced the closing. All of the equipment was removed to other museums in Washington, Oregon and California during 2011 and 2012. Pacific Coast Shay 7 and Weyerhaeuser No. 3 Lidgerwood Tower Skidder to the Roots of Motive Power Museum in Willits, California. Other equipment and the Rayioner photo collection were passed on to the Polson Museum in Hoquiam, Washington. The "Don Olson Art Collection" was placed with the Weyerhaeuser Company Art Collection, Federal Way, Washington.

The project to re-locate the Camp 6 equipment to Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad was spearheaded and led by Brian Wise, the railroad's roadmaster as he wanted to continue the legacy of the Camp 6 Logging Museum, which educated guests about the history of steam logging for more than 40 years at Point Defiance Park in Tacoma. In the winter of 2010, Camp 6, founded by the Western Forest Industries Museum in 1964 and operated by the Tacoma Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, was forced to shut down when public and private funding dried up. Tom Murray, who served on the board of the Western Forest Industries Museum and also founded the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad in 1980 was instrumental in arranging an agreement to transfer five cabins at Camp 6 to Mineral in November 2011 in order to found the logging museum there. Four of the five cabins transferred from Camp 6 to Mineral were previously used up until the early 1960s by Rayonier Logging Company at a logging camp on Lake Quinault. The fifth cabin from Camp 6 was previously used by St. Regis Paper at a logging camp on Lake Kapowsin.

To complete the logging museum at Mineral, Wise requested a sixth cabin from West Fork Timber Company, which is located adjacent to the museum. In addition to the cabins, Mount Rainier Railroad also procured steam logging artifacts from Camp 6. These comprised a logging caboose, a Caterpillar tractor bulldozer and logging arch, and a snowmobile built from the wreckage of an airplane by a logger based in Mineral who used it in the very same woods years ago. The logging museum opened at Mineral in June 2012.

Our Day Continues

I had the rest of the day free so joined Chris Guenzler, Chris Parker, Bob Riskie and Jim Nowell for the drive south. Chris G. and I lead the way down I-5 with the others following in the rental car. We exited at Vader and while the others stopped at Subway for lunch, Chris and I drove the short distance to the tracks.

Amtrak's Coast Starlight led by P42 71 at MP 77.9.

A southbound BNSF freight, led by SD40-2 6731, SD40-2 7898 and SD40 6308 came through ten minutes later. The others then joined us and we gleefully reported on what they missed. We then drove to Battle Ground.

Spokane, Portland and Seattle 2-8-2 539 (nee Northern Pacific 1762), built in 1917. It was retired in 1957 and displayed at Esther Short Park in Vancouver, Washington until 1997 when moved to Battle Ground for a potential restoration that never occurred.

The sign on the fence giving details about SP&S 539. A year later, 539 would be acquired by the Grand Canyon Railroad and moved to Williams, Arizona, where it was put on display. In March 2020, it was sold to the Port of Kalama, Washington and trucked back to its home state for display in the Port's Interpretive Centre in recognition of the role railways played in the town's history.

Since it was now late afternoon and I had a longish drive ahead of me, I said my goodbyes to everyone then drove north on I-5 back to Lynnwood then returned to Victoria the next day.

It had been a marvellous week and this day capped off the adventures perfectly. Thank you to Chris for organizing the ride and visit to Camp 6 and the stops at Vader and Battle Ground.