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Brooks-Scanlon Lumber Company

Brooks-Scanlon Lumber Company

A Brooks-Scanlon log train on its way to Bend. Jerry Lamper collection.


In 1896 a group of lumbermen by the names of Dwight F. Brooks, Lester R. Brooks, Anson S. Brooks and M.J. Scanlon opened a sawmill in Nickerson, Minnesota. By 1901 these men had formed the Brooks-Scanlon Lumber Company and started constructing other sawmills in Minnesota. Brooks-Scanlon started moving out of Minnesota when the supply of trees started to dwindle, and eventually the company had operations in Louisiana, Florida, Montana, British Columbia and Oregon.

The company commenced acquiring timberlands in central Oregon starting about 1905. Timber in the area was cheap, as without a means to ship finished product to waiting markets the trees held little economic value. The company could see that central Oregon was not going to be devoid of transportation forever, and it was content to wait for it to arrive.

The completion of the joint Oregon Trunk/Des Chutes Railway into Bend from the north in 1911 finally made large scale commercial timber harvests possible. By mid-August 1915 Brooks-Scanlon was ready to start operations in central Oregon, and on 1 September 1915 construction began on a new sawmill just south of Bend on the east bank of the Deschutes River. Work had just begun on the new mill when a fire struck, destroying the lumberyard, dry kiln and shed, for a total estimated loss of $70,000. It was the worst fire in Bend's history up to that time. Construction of the mill resumed after the fire, and the sawmill went into production for the first time on 22 April 1916.

An early view of the Brooks Scanlon Mill A with Pilot Butte visible in the background. Jeff Moore collection.

A later view of Mill A after the powerhouse had been expanded and a second sawdust burner built. Visible in the background are the planing mill, box factory, and other facilities. Jeff Moore collection.

In 1923 Brooks-Scanlon built the much larger Mill B complex just west of the original mill. This view is looking upstream across the dam that created the log pond, Mill A is on the left and Mill B is visible in the distance. The Mill B powerhouse that today is the centerpiece of the Old Mill District shopping center would later get itsthird smokestack. Note the smaller sawdust burner at Mill A had been removed by the date of this photo. Jeff Moore collection.

Most of the timber owned by the company at the time was located to the south and east of Bend, on the eastern fringes of the narrow pine belt that lay between the Cascade Mountains and the western edge of the high desert rangelands. The size of operations contemplated by the company required a railroad to bring the logs to the mill, and work on the logging railroad commenced shortly after construction of the mill began. By the end of 1915 a total of eight miles of railroad had been completed and a second hand locomotive had been acquired from the Spokane Portland & Seattle Railway, which was the parent company of the Oregon Trunk. Grades on the railroad were generally held to a maximum of 2-1/2 percent, with the steepest grade on the line found right out of the mill complex on the climb out of the Deschutes River Canyon, which was accomplished with the help of a switchback.

Brooks-Scanlon #2 with an early log train in the woods south of Bend. John T. Labbe Collection of Logging and Railroad Photographs, 1892-2010, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives,

Initial output of the Bend mill was around 300,000 board feet of lumber per day. By early 1918 the logging railroad had grown to 18 miles, with a logging camp located five miles out of Bend. Three locomotives were on the roster by this time, and the skidding of logs from the cutting site to the railroad landing was being accomplished with horses and high wheels. Operations continued to expand quickly to the south and east to feed the ever growing appetite of the Bend mill. By 1922 daily production was up to 500,000 board feet, and the railroad rostered five locomotives and 160 log flats, with a pair of Clyde skidders and some McGiffert loaders working in the woods. Over 400 men were employed in the logging operations by this point, with the men based out of four camps.

By 1926 daily production had reached 625,000 board feet a day. The logging railroad by this point was 25 miles long, rostered 6 locomotives, and employed five McGiffert loaders at the landings. Twenty sets of high wheels and nearly 100 horses were still used to skid logs to the landings, although six brand new Caterpillar tractors were being tested. These production figures made B-S the second largest single timber producer anywhere in the state of Oregon.

The Brooks-Scanlon track layer at work. Jerry Lamper collection.

Operations continued to expand, with nearly 70 miles of railroad in use by the late 1930s. Tractors and arches took over completely in the woods. The farthest southern point reached by the logging line was Cabin Lake in northern Lake County. From that point branches spread to the northeast as far as Sand Springs, not far south of Millican, and west past South Ice Cave to Ooskan Butte. However, by 1942 the southern holdings of the company were nearly logged out, and cutbacks to the railroad followed as the available timber was exhausted. The Cabin Lake line was the first to go, followed quickly by the Sand Springs line. The railroad was cut back to China Hat, and by the mid-1940s the entire line southeast from Bend completely abandoned and removed. After the end of operations a good portion of logged over land in the McKay Butte-Arnold Ice Cave areas was used by the U.S. Army to conduct war games, with the old railroad grade turned into roads. After the war a good portion of the railroad grade was converted into private truck roads.

The end of the line south of Bend did not mean the end of logging railroads, however, as in October 1943 the company started construction of a line to the northwest from Bend, towards the community of Sisters. To access this new line B-S was granted trackage rights over a short stretch of tracks owned by the Oregon Trunk (Spokane Portland & Seattle) that crossed the Deschutes River over a bridge. The first camp located on the new line was placed at Bull Springs, which was active until 1946 when the timber in the area was cut out. The final railroad-based log camp built by the company was then located at the junction of the McKenzie and Santiam highways just west of the small town of Sisters. The logging railroad was extended farther to the northwest, with branches built on both the east and south sides of Black Butte.

One of Brooks-Scanlon's mikados switching a McGiffert loader in the woods. Jerry Lamper collection.

Since inception the Brooks-Scanlon operations in Bend had been operated under the title of the Brooks-Scanlon Lumber Company. On 11 September 1946 the Brooks-Scanlon Lumber Company was merged with Brooks-Scanlon Corporation of Foley, Florida, to create Brooks-Scanlon Inc.

By the mid-1930s locals were getting increasingly concerned about the ability of the forest products industry in Bend to sustain operations over the long term. The idea and concept of a sustained yield harvest was talked about, but a study done in 1937 concluded that the combined potential output of both the Brooks-Scanlon and Shevlin-Hixon mills were four times what the surrounding woods could provide on a sustained yield basis. By 1944 the two sawmills had a combined actual output of 250 million board feet per year, but by this time the remaining timber could only provide a sustained yield of 82 million board feet a year. By 1950 it was clear to both companies that the timber supply to keep both mills in Bend active was not there anymore, and in the end the solution worked out between the two saw Brooks-Scanlon buy out the Shevlin-Hixon holdings in and around Bend. The Shevlin-Hixon mill closed for good four months after the takeover.

The Brooks-Scanlon enginehouse in Sisters. Photo by and courtesy of Jerry Lamper.

At the time of the B-S buyout Shevlin-Hixon had one active logging railroad operation that was located southeast of Chemult in Klamath County. The railroad connected with the Great Northern line at Chemult, and logs from that operation were sent north to Bend over GN rails. The B-S takeover had little impact on the former S-H woods operations except that the logs were delivered to the B-S mill after the S-H mill closed. Only one S-H locomotive was re-lettered to reflect the change in ownership, and the rest of the S-H locomotive fleet operated until the end of operations wearing S-H lettering. The operation out of Chemult lasted until 1952, when the timber ran out and the rails were taken up, only to be laid down again at a point known as "The Timbers", which was five miles north of Gilchrist and three miles west of the GN mainline. The ex-S-H locomotives and equipment were used to bring logs from The Timbers north of Bend until 1954, when that line was closed and the rails removed. Following the end of operations on The Timbers line all former S-H locomotives were brought north to Bend, where they languished in storage for a little while before being scrapped.

In 1952 Brooks-Scanlon decided to upgrade the railroad to Sisters. Heavier rails and treated ties were installed, and a couple small trestles were filled in. The log car fleet was re-built with automatic air brakes, and other modernizations were made to the rolling stock. Two of the old McGiffert loaders were converted to diesel power by removing the original boiler and hoisting mechanisms from the frame, then installing the cabs and booms from a diesel shovel and a diesel powered locomotive crane in their places. The pair functioned well in the loading of log cars up until the end of operations. The biggest change, however, was in the locomotive department. After testing various diesel demonstrator models, the company purchased two new diesel switchers from the American Locomotive Company in 1952, which allowed for the retirement of most of the steam power.

Brooks-Scanlon #102 in the Bend mill. Jerry Lamper collection.

The railroad continued to run until 1956, when a new logging superintendent decided to try a season without the railroad. The railroad sat silent until September of that year, when it was re-activated to start bringing logs down from Bear Springs on the Sisters Line. The railroad saw extensive use during September and October, as the company was trying to build up enough of a cold deck to sustain operations of the mill while the change over from rail to truck logging was finalized. By early November the last logs were delivered to the mill by rail.

On 14 November 1956 the track crew started the process of scrapping the railroad. Work progressed steadily through the winter, and the job was completed on 9 February 1957. The roadbed was converted into a private truck road, and the era of logging railroads out of Bend came to a close. All equipment save for a tracklayer, a locomotive crane, a caboose, a snowplow, a few ballast hoppers and some flatcars were disposed of, with the diesels going to the Edward Hines Lumber Company for use on their operation out of Seneca, OR, and the log flats going to the Canadian Forest Products railroad on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and to the Georgia Pacific operations in Samoa, California and Coos Bay, Oregon. The balance of the railroad equipment remained in storage at the mill until the land they were located on was needed for a major mill expansion, at which time it was scrapped and the last of the rails in the mill complex were removed.

The Brooks-Scanlon mill remained active until 1980, when it was merged into the Diamond International Corporation. The sawmill remained open and active until 1994, when it was finally closed. Most of the sawmill buildings have been torn down, with the entire mill site now turned into an upscale shopping facility know as "The Old Mill District". The old railroad grade towards Sisters is still very much in evidence. One of the diesels still exists in Washington, and one of the steam locomotives also exists in a park in Corvallis, Oregon. Meanwhile, the Brooks-Scanlon Lumber Company morphed into Brooks Resources, which is still a pillar of the Bend community and in many ways led the transition from a timber town to the tourist destination the city has become.

One of the many remaining imprints that Brooks-Scanlon left in the Bend area...the sign for Brooks Camp road, near Sisters. Jeff Moore photo.

In addition to the logging railroad, Brooks-Scanlon also had a narrow gauge in plant switching railroad. Jeff Moore collection.

Sometime around 1950 the Union 76 company released a series of large postcards of roadside scenes around the west, two of which featured the Brooks-Scanlon mill. In this view a steam locomotive can be seen running around a string of loaded log cars. Just visible to the right is the Mill B complex, the smoke stacks visible in the background are at the Mill A complex. The other sawdust burner and some of the other buildings towards the left are in the then closed Shevlin-Hixon mill across the river.

The other Union 76 postcard view of logs in the Deschutes River looking towards the Mill B complex, which is now home to the Old Mill District shopping center.


The logging railroad systems built south of Bend by Brooks-Scanlon and Shevlin-Hixon lumber companies.

The Sisters Line and associated logging railroad system.

Locomotive roster

Underlined numbers indicate a link to a page of pictures of that locomotive.

#1- Baldwin 4-4-0, c/n 6972, built 1883. Built as Spokane & Inland Empire #4, to Spokane Portland & Seattle #56 1915, to Brooks-Scanlon Lumber Company 1915. Retired 1922, scrapped shortly afterwards.

#2- Schenectady 2-6-0, c/n 2872, built 8/1889. Cylinders 18x24, Drivers 57", Boiler Pressure 155 lb., Tractive Effort 17,970 lb., Weight 108,100 lbs. Built as Oregon Railway & Navigation Company #92; to Union Pacific #1211; to Oregon Railway & Navigation Company #107; to Oregon-Washington Railway and Navigation #107; to Union Pacific #4204; to Bercules Sandstone in 1915; to Brooks Scanlon #2 2/1916. Sold to City of Prineville Railway as their #2 in 1925; Scrapped 1951.

#3- Lima 3-truck Shay, c/n 2965, built 3/1918. Cylinders 12x15, Drivers 36", Boiler Pressure 200 lb., Tractive Effort 30,400 lbs, Weight 70 tons. Purchased new. Sold to Bend Iron Works for scrap 1953.

#4- Baldwin 2-8-2, c/n 52726, built 12/1919. Cylinders 18x24, Drivers 44", Boiler Pressure 180 lb., Tractive Effort 27,000 lbs., Weight 145,000 lbs. Purchased new. Scrapped.

#5- Baldwin 2-8-2, c/n 55399, built 5/1922. Cylinders 18x24, Drivers 44", Boiler Pressure 190 lb., Tractive Effort 28,600 lbs., Weight 144,000 lbs. Purchased new. To Georgia-Pacific Corporation #5. On display in Corvallis, OR.

#6- Baldwin 2-8-2, c/n 56290, blt 3/1923. Cylinders 18x24, Drivers 44", Boiler Pressure 190 lb., Tractive Effort 28,600 lbs., Weight 144,000 lbs. Purchased new. Scrapped.

1st #7- Baldwin 2-8-2, c/n 58362, built 4/1925. Cylinders 18x24, Drivers 44", Boiler Pressure 190 lb., Tractive Effort 28,600 lbs., Weight 144,000 lbs. Purchased new; Renumbered Brooks-Scanlon #8. Sold to Valley & Siletz Railroad #56 1939. Scrapped.

2nd #7- Baldwin 2-8-2, c/n 56291, built 3/1923. Cylinders 18x24, Drivers 44", Boiler Pressure 180 lb., Tractive Effort 28,600 lbs., Weight 144,000 lbs. Built as Brooks-Scanlon-O'Brien #2, Stillwater, British Columbia; to Brooks-Scanlon 2nd #7. Scrapped.

#8- Same machine as 1st #7 above.

#101- Alco S-3 diesel electric switcher, c/n 79563, built 5/1952. 660 horsepower, 40" drivers, 6-cylinder model 539 engine, Weight 199,000 lbs. Purchased new. To Oregon & Northwestern #101 1956; to Longview Fibre #7001; to Battle Ground, Yacolt & Chelatchie Prairie Railroad Association. Currently in storage near Yacolt, WA.

#102- Alco S-3 diesel electric switcher, c/n 79774, built 5/1952. 660 horsepower, 40" drivers, 6-cylinder model 539 engine, Weight 199,000 lbs. Purchased new. To Oregon & Northwestern #102 1956; to City of Prineville #103; to Kewash Railroad #103, Keota, iowa; to Dakota Southern Railroad. Scrapped December 2021/January 2022.

#S-H 4- In addition to the above Brooks-Scanlon inherited six additional Baldwin 2-8-2s with the Shevlin-Hixon lumber company in 1950. The six were S-H #2, #4, #5, #6, #7, and #8. Only the #4 got Brooks-Scanlon lettering after the purchase, and B-S renumbered it S-H 4 to avoid any confusion with its own #4. All of the others remained in full Shevlin-Hixon markings until their retirement.

Photos of the Brooks-Scanlon Lumber Company

Photos from the Chuck Johnson collection


McGiffert Loaders

Working with the Track Layer

Log Flats at Collier State Park

Surviving Camp Cars

Old Mill District



"Railroad Logging in the Klamath Country". Jack Bowden, Oso Publishing, 2004.

"Green Gold: The incomplete, and probably inaccurate, history of the timber industry in parts of Central and Eastern Oregon from 1867 to near the present". Martin Gario Morisette, self published, 2005.


"Brooks-Scanlon, Inc." by Jack M. Holst, February 1970 Pacific RailNews: Pgs 4-17.

"Brooks-Scanlon's Diesel McGifferts" by Martin Hansen, Winter 1986 Timberbeast: Pgs 18-23,27.

"Closing the Lumberman's Frontier: The Far Western Pine Country" by Thomas R. Cox, July 1994 Journal of the West: Pgs 59-66.

"Diesel Logging Locomotives" by John Taubeneck, Pete Replinger, Patrick Hind and John Henderson, August-October 1996 Tall Timber Short Lines: Pgs 10-31.

More on the Web

Brooks Resources Home Page

Old Mill District Home Page- Website of the Old Mill District, the commercial shopping center that currently occupies the Brooks-Scanlon sawmill complex.