Much-anticipated ride on a Willamette geared locomotive

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Monday, May 3, 2010

Martin Hansen Willamette No. 2 and Climax No. 10 at Mount Rainier Scenic RailroadI fulfilled a long dream of mine Saturday, which was to see and ride a Willamette geared locomotive. The Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad restored Rayonier Inc. No. 2, a three-truck “Willie” last year, and Pacific Northwest railroad historian Martin Hansen (pictured at right) organized a photo outing with the superheated locomotive for 18 of us.
Having grown up riding and appreciating the Shay locomotives of North Carolina’s Graham County Railroad, I always wanted to know what the Pacific Northwest’s “Shay knock-off” was like. This was my day to experience it finally. So this was what “the other guy” was all about.
Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad's three-truck Climax No. 10 Some general impressions: The three cylinder chests, which are turned sideways from those on a Shay certainly do add to the engine’s appearance. So do the cast trucks versus the Shay’s bolted trucks. The superheater line from the boiler to the cylinder manifold is a straight pipe, whereas on many Shays this turns out to be a haphazard “dog leg” arrangement. On the “blind” or fireman’s side, there was a tool box made out of diamond plate that could hold a lot more tools than the Pacific Coast Shay it competed against. The engine is quiet, and purrs like a kitten with a handful of empty log cars.
Rayonier 2 (third photo from the top) was one of 33 made by the Portland, Ore., company between 1922 and 1929, and she’s the only one of the surviving engines to steam in the last 50 years. The engine is right at home with Mount Rainier’s impressive collection of geared locomotives. Also out Saturday was Hillcrest Lumber Co. Climax No. 10 (at right and below), one of only three operational engines by the Corry, Pa., manufacturer. This rare engine provided another glimpse into the amazing world of logging railroading.
The Mount Rainier Scenic, by the way, is poised for a comeback of sorts. The railroad’s Nisqually River Bridge got washed out in November 2006. It reopened this spring, and trains will return to the depot at Elbe, Wash. While repairs were made, they boarded at the railroad’s Mineral, Wash., shops.
Rayonier Inc. Willamette No. 2 You’ll also see a new paint scheme taking hold on two of the railroad’s passenger cars: It’s a two-tone Milwaukee Road paint scheme, in homage to the line’s Milwaukee roots, replacing the green with silver roof cars that have been Mount Rainier’s staple for years. And look for another Rayonier engine in the shop set to debut later this year, 2-8-2 No. 70.







Mount Rainier Scenic's Willamette No. 2 












Jim Wrinn photos


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