Before there were feller bunchers, forwarders or harvesters hauling timber from the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, there were horses, manpower and trains.
The face of the logging industry has changed forever, but a small museum in Mineral is working to ensure the old ways are not forgotten.
The Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad and Museum recently completed an exhibit of an old logging camp and is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2 p.m. Saturday (July 19).
“We’re very excited,” said Meilee Anderson, sales and marketing director at the railroad museum. “The new exhibits are filled with historical displays of 19th century logging camp lifestyle.”
Train tracks went into the forest, and logging camps followed close behind. The camps were basically a number of buildings small enough to fit on the back of a train car and be rolled into the forest where crews were working.
Renovation of these buildings was just recently completed, and they will be on display at the museum. Anderson’s favorite is the women’s quarters, affectionately known as the “flunkie shack.”
“It was a term of endearment, I can’t believe that,” she said. “Even more, I can’t believe they used one tiny little wood stove to feed an entire camp of lumber men.”
Visitors will have the chance to explore the museum grounds on a free self-guided tour. At 3:30 p.m., and for $45, a person can ride on the steam train and sit down for a barbecue meal.
The museum and railroad were built to pay homage to the logging and railroad industry of the Pacific Northwest. They house the largest steam engine collection in the United States and a variety of equipment, cars and bunkhouses used in logging operations.
For more information, or for tickets to the steam train, go to mrsr.info, or call 360-492-5588. The museum is at 54124 Mountain Highway E., Elbe.