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Nibley-Mimnaugh Lumber Company

Nibley-Mimnaugh Lumber Company

Nibley-Mimnaugh #101 at Wallowa. J.B. Bane collection.


Lumbermen James, Patrick, and Charles Mimnaugh started acquiring timber in the area north of Wallowa in 1901. Charles W. Nibley, the Mormon capitalist discussed elsewhere on this site for his involvement with the Meacham Lumber Company and several lumber operations associated with the Sumpter Valley Railway, also had holdings in the area, and in 1907 the two groups consolidated their holdings in the area into the Nibley-Mimnaugh Lumber Company. The new company started building a sawmill in Wallowa in 1908. One of the existing smaller mills in Wallowa cut timbers for the new mill.

In 1909, Nibley-Mimnaugh started running surveys for a logging railroad going up the Whiskey Creek drainage northeast of Wallowa, though construction may not have started until 1913. This railroad set the pattern for most operations in the area, with the railroad built more or less up the creek bottoms with minimal grade work. The company built several branches up various forks of or tributaries to Whiskey Creek. At around this same time the company might have built a second logging railroad going south of Wallowa to around the mouth of the Bear Creek drainage, though the records of this are not conclusive and no evidence of such a railroad remains today. The company acquired a fleet of four used Heisler locomotives to power the operation.

Nibley-Mimnaugh could see the end of its available timber in the Whiskey Creek drainage by the dawn of the 1920s, and by 1922 the company had completed seven miles of a new logging railroad running north of Wallowa up the Dry Creek drainage. As with the Whiskey Creek system, this logging railroad ran up the creek bottoms and included several spurs up tributary drainages. However, on 14 September 1922 James Mimnaugh, who by this point controlled and ran the company, suffered a stroke and died. Control of the company then passed to his wife and three children, who in turn along with the other stockholders sold the company to the Bowman-Hicks Lumber Company on 2 August 1923. Further history of the operations are covered in the page on that company.


Rough map of the Nibley-Mimnaugh logging railroad.

Locomotive Roster

The Nibley-Mimnaugh roster is somewhat uncertain as printed resources contain conflicting information. Following is the best guess at this time based on photos and available information.

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

2 (102?)- Heisler 2-truck, 42-ton, c/n 1188, Built 9/1910. Built as Nibley Lumber #2, Meacham, Oregon; to Hilgard Lumber/Blue Mountain Railroad, Meacham, Oregon; used briefly on Nibley-Mimnaugh Lumber, Wallowa, Oregon, but not relettered from Nibley Lumber; re-gauged to narrow guage at Sumpter Valley Railway shops in Baker City circa 1912 and used on the C.W. Nibley Lumber logging railroad out of Whitney; to Oregon Lumber #104 circa 1915. Scrapped 1947 in Baker City.

103(?)- Heisler 2-truck, 47-ton, c/n 1377, Built 6/1918. Built as U.S. Army Signal Corps #2, for Airplane Spruce & Lumber #2, Hoquiam, Washington; to Zimmerman-Wells-Brown (Dealer), Portland, Oregon, circa 1919; to Nibley-Mimnaugh; to Bowman-Hicks, possibly #6.

104(?)- Heisler 2-truck, 42-ton, c/n 1151, Built 8/1909. Built as Corvallis & Alsea River Railway #2, Corvallis, Oregon; to Portland, Eugene & Eastern, Eugene, Oregon; to L.R. Fields, Cochran, Oregon; to C.H. Wheeler Lumber, Cochran, Oregon; to Nibley-Mimnaugh Lumber; to Bowman-Hicks, probably #5.


The Nibley-Mimnaugh mill at Wallowa. J.B. Bane collection.

The #101 with a log train. J.B. Bane collection.

Another shot of the #101 bringing a train out of the Whiskey Creek drainage. J.B. Bane collection.

Nibley Lumber #2 loading logs. The location is thought to be maybe at the mouth of Bear Creek south of Wallowa. Martin E. Hansen collection.

Impressive pileup of a runaway log train on Whiskey Creek. J.B. Bane collection.

A broadside view of the Nibley-Mimnaugh #104. J.B. Bane collection.

Nibley-Mimnaugh #104 with a log train coming out one of the tributaries of Whiskey Creek. Note the use of trestle and log crib work to ease the grade into the drainage. Martin E. Hansen collection, courtesy J.B. Bane.

The same view as it appears today. J.B. Bane photograph.

A Nibley-Mimnaugh grade on the North Fork Whiskey Creek today. J.B. Bane photo.