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Grande Ronde Lumber Company

Grande Ronde Lumber Company

Grande Ronde Lumber #104 on the Big Creek & Telocaset Railroad. John T. Labbe Collection of Logging and Railroad Photographs, 1892-2010, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives,


The Stoddard, Mimnaugh, and several other timber capitalists later involved in a good number of other operations covered on this site incorporated the Grande Ronde Lumber Company in the late 1880s, and in 1890 the company built one of the first large sawmills in northeastern Oregon at Perry, four miles northwest of La Grande. The company relied heavily on animals and log drives in the Grande Ronde River to deliver logs to the mill, but after a few years the company built a logging railroad connecting with the Oregon-Washington Railway & Navigation Company main line at Hilgard, four miles west of Perry, that ran up the river.

The company and/or its backers owned timberlands scattered along the river north of Elgin, and starting about 1917 the company built logging railroads to facilitate transporting the logs to Perry. The first railroad connected with the Joseph Branch at Palmer Junction and ran approximately three and a half miles up Lookingglass Creek to the confluence with Little Lookingglass Creek. The company either bought this stretch from the George Palmer Lumber Company or built its railraod on the old Palmer grade, depending on if the Palmer railroad had been removed by that point or not. The railroad then turned west and ran up the main fork of Lookingglass Creek for about another three and a half miles. The company reportedly did most of its logging with horses that dragged logs to the ridgetops above the railroad, where they would be simply rolled down the slope to the tracks. By 1920 the railhead reached the Umatilla National Forest boundary, and in the spring of that year the company requested that the Forest sell it some timber farther up the creek so that the life of the railroad could be extended. The Forest Service apparently considered the request, but the available records are not clear enough to confirm whether the company got that timber or not.

The Grande Ronde company built a second line off the Joseph Branch in 1919. This line connected with the branch about a half mile north of Palmer Junction and crossed the river on a trestle before heading up the Duncan Creek drainage for about two miles. Logging on that spur was to last for about three years, through 1921, but the trestle across the river reportedly washed out in 1920 and may or may not have been rebuilt for the last year of operations. The Grande Ronde company also drove logs on the river to other points along the Joseph Branch for loading onto railcars.

The Grande Ronde Company was probably mostly done with operations on the Joseph Branch by 1921. The company sold its logging railroad out of Hilgard along with the rest of its holdings on Grande Ronde River to the Mount Emily Lumber Company in 1925, and by 1926 they had closed the Perry mill and moved it to Pondosa, Oregon, which is covered on the Big Creek & Telocaset page of this website.


The Grande Ronde Lumber Company logging railroads tributary to the Joseph Branch.

Locomotive Roster

101- Heisler 2-truck, 25-ton, c/n 1085, Built 5/1905. Built for Grande Ronde Lumber Company, Perry, Oregon; to Nibley-Mimnaugh, Wallowa, OR; to Bowman-Hicks, Wallowa, Oregon.

102- Heisler 2-Truck, 37-ton, c/n 1053, built 11/1901. Cylinders 15x12, Drivers 36", Weight 37 tons. Built as Debois & Bond Brothers #1, Bond, Maryland; to Grande Ronde Lumber Company #102, Perry, OR. Transferred to Pondosa operations. To Stoddard Lumber Company #102 1930; eventually became Big Creek & Telocaset #102. Likely scrapped around 1955.

103- Lima 2-truck Shay, c/n 2241, built 11/1909. Cylinders 10x12, Drivers 29.5", Weight 50 tons. Built as Grande Ronde Lumber Company #103, Perry, OR; Transferred to Pondosa operations. To Stoddard Lumber Company #103, Pondosa, OR, 1929. Disposition unrecorded.

104- Heisler 2-Truck, 50-tons, c/n 1496, built 1/1924. Built as Grande Ronde Lumber Company #104, Perry, OR; transferred to Pondosa. To Stoddard Lumber Company #104 1930; to Grande Ronde Pine Company #104 1931; to Almanor Railroad, Chester, CA, 1941; to Whitney Co., Tacoma, WA, circa 1947. Scrapped.

?- Heisler 2-Truck, 22 tons, c/n 1091, built 6/1906. Built as Meacham Lumber Company, Meacham, OR; to Grande Ronde Lumber Company, Perry, OR; to Wilsom & Mallory, Yacolt, WA; to Columbia Tie & Timber Company, Yacold, WA; to Broughton Lumber Company, Cooks, WA.


Grande Ronde's Perry Mill, from a vintage The Timberman magazine.