Steam Skidders

The Little River used what was at the turn of the century the latest "modern" steam-powered equipment to harvest  timber. In the earliest years, on the West Prong, this steam equipment had not been introduced. Here the Shea brothers built log slides to bring timber down, one of them two and a half miles long (see photo at right). This was better than having horse teams dragging heavy logs down steep slopes, which could be overrun and injured.

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Donkey engines (see photo at left), which pulled logs in on the ground using a steam engine, winches and cables were little used - dragging logs over stumps, brush and the rough terrain was impractical. Ground skidders added a boom to the donkey engine, raising the pulling point into the air, but the logs were still subject to hanging up on obstructions.


The ultimate solution was the overhead or cableway skidder, where the cable was raised at both ends - from the skidder boom to a tree or stump above the loading area. A carriage with sheaves rode on the overhead cable, pulled out and back by another cable loop, and with still another cable which could be raised and lowered from the carriage. This enabled log loads to ride well above the ground obstructions. (See carriage photo at right.)

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The Little River worked closely with the Clyde Manufacturing Company in perfecting the overhead skidders, which were first used above Elkmont on the East Prong. These skidders were mounted on railway trucks, and usually worked from a spur track at the landing. Little River had as many as five of these operating at one time.

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Skidder Skidder at Jakes Creek, c. 1920 Clyde Skidder Skidder, Left Side View
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Clyde Skidder Clyde Skidder Clyde Skidder
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Clyde Skidder Skidder at Jakes Creek, c. 1920 Skidder from Above Sary Parker


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