|Last Update: June 11, 2007
|Refer to this map for the location
of the areas mentioned in this
article and where to find the
locomotive, if you want to visit it
|We've all heard the stories about the abandoned steam locomotives that were left in the woods, many decades ago, and
that still may exist today just waiting to be found. More often than not, the rumors turn out to be bunk, but every once
and a while, there truly is the remains of a locomotive, abandoned deep in the mountains for whatever reason and still
remaining there today just waiting for visitors to explore it. This is one such locomotive. One of two in the Northwest that
we've searched out and discovered so far. The first one was the "Ring of Fire" Movie wreck site in Washington State.
Unfortunately, not much remains of the original locomotive discussed in this article, but even so, the site is worth
exploring. Even if to visit the other interesting finds in the general area. Many of which I describe in detail in my Article
about the trip in which this locomotive was discovered, titled
Exploring Abandoned Railroads of Washington and Idaho.
Check it out to read about the other finds in this area. The article on this page is dedicated exclusively to the abandoned
Rutledge Climax number 103 that you'll see and read about below.
|This locomotive was a Climax, 2 truck, 48 ton, Class B, standard gauge locomotive. It was constructed in February of
1909 by Climax Manufacturing Company of Corry, Pennsylvania as serial number # 916.
The original owner was the Izett Lumber Company of Brinnon, Washington. They owned it until November, 1909, when it was sold to the
Kneeland Lumber Company of Shelton, Washington. Sometime in 1910, it was again sold to the Oakland Bay Logging Company, also of
Shelton, Washington. But in 1916, the locomotive would be sold to the Rutledge Lumber Company of Harrison, Idaho, numbered 103, and
it's fate sealed.
The Rutledge Lumber company owned a large track of forest land north of Clarkia, Idaho and had been logging that land for years, but in
1922, a large forest fire swept through the area and changed the logging operations forever. While most of the Rutledge logging camps that
were in use, were spared by the fire, much of the trees were burned and Rutledge had to act quickly if they wanted to salvage the remaining
logs before disease and decay took over. Rather than built a normal railroad that went around the mountains, Rutledge decided to build one
straight over the mountains to the damaged area. Thus, the famous "Incline" was constructed. The incline was a steep section of track
that went straight up one side of a mountain and down the other. Since the locomotives could not possibly power themselves, much less
any load of logs over the incline, steam donkeys were used as winches to pull the trains up and over the other side. The loads were hauled
up and over, one car and one locomotive at a time, using several steam donkey. The initial method was to use one donkey to pull the load
half way up the incline, and then another was hooked on for the remainder of the pull. Once the loads were pulled over the mountain, they
would continue the journey to Clarkia, Idaho pulled by a Climax Locomotive. The Climax would work both sides of the incline and was
pulled up and over, just like the log cars were. The incline from base to base was over 1.5 miles long and there was not enough cable for
one single pull. Loggers constantly worried about the load of logs or entire cars breaking loose. In fact, a number accidents did occur
including a car load of rails, which broke loose and went rushing down the incline, before crashing and sending the rails like missiles off into
By 1923, the Incline was abandoned for the first time as the method of hauling trains over the mountain proved to be unsuccessful.
In 1928, the Incline was reopened. This time, two steam donkeys were employed at the summit and tied together. Using a single length of
1 5/8 inch cable for the entire route, loads were able to be pulled up and over the incline all at once.
From this point on, the history is a bit sketchy. The Incline and this railroad did not last very long. In 1930, an accident occurred. What
exactly happened is not known. I have to guess, based on the condition and location of the locomotive. It appears that Rutledge Climax
number 103, which was facing north, away from Clarkia, was either being winched up the north slope of the incline, backwards, ultimately
destined for Clarkia or being let down the north Slope to pull log cars from the reload back to the incline. Most likely, at some point, the
cable broke or the steam donkeys failed and caused the Climax to rush back down the north slope of the incline. Because the north slope
was not as steep, the Climax remained on the tracks, but began to gain uncontrollable speed. It's not known if anyone was on the
locomotive, when it ran away, or if perhaps they jumped off just in time. When the Climax hit the bottom of the incline it was still on the tracks
and travelled approximately another 1/4 mile before jumping the tracks, where it wrecked and came to next to the railroad tracks.
What happened next is also unclear. The only thing we know for sure, is that Rutledge was not able to get the Climax back over the Incline
and decided to abandoned her. Ted Curphey states in the Rumorweb that because the cables broke, Rutledge didn't want to go the
expense to get new cable to pull the Climax out. This seems plausible. Especially, considering that the locomotive suffered heavy damage,
and likely to the running gear and was more than 20 years old. Operations on the inclined were closed shortly there after and completely
Today, one can see that much of the locomotive has been cut up and salvaged. One mystery is when this occurred. Was it at the time of the
accident or many years afterwards? Almost certainly, Rutledge would have salvaged some parts off of the Climax, but whether they are
responsible for removing the running gear and torching off the smoke box, steam tubes and steam dome, is a mystery. Once it was
abandoned, it was likely not visited for many years, including through the scrap drives of WW2, as access to the area was extremely limited.
But in the years after WW2, forest roads were built near by and access to the Climax by salvagers would have been easier.
Today, not much remains, except for the frame, firebox, boiler housing, and cab shell. It's possible that more remains are buried in the dirt
under the boiler or are located nearby in the brush. It's obvious that the entire running gear below the frame had been removed.
Despite not being a complete locomotive, it was still an extremely thrilling find.
Regarding my search for this locomotive, the forest service knew of it's location and in fact advertised it in several old brochures of a nearby
historical trail. But when I inquired to them about it, they were adamant that it did not exist. Perhaps I was just talking to an ignorant FS
Ranger, but I also find it strange that a nearby forest service interpretive center, which discusses the history of the area and goes to great
lengths to talk about several abandoned steam donkeys in the area and the Incline railroad, made no mention of this abandoned locomotive.
I can completely understand why few people would know about it. I don't know that the FS is trying to hide it's location. I think instead, it's just
an incredible piece of history that appears to have been mostly forgotten and ignored.
|The railroad grade just north
of the incline. Number 103,
zipped past here before
jumping the tracks.
|At the base of the incline and down the grade are these pieces of cable
that were certainly part of the Incline winching system.
|Straight ahead is the
north slope of the Incline.
Hard to see today, as it's
covered with vegetation.
|There she is, sitting right next the grade, facing directly away from
the Incline. We immediately notice one thing. The cab seems to
have been pushed forward from an sudden impact and the loco is
located right next to where the tracks used to be located.
|The fire box. The only identification marks I could find on the entire
locomotive was this number stamped into the firebox, just above the
|The fireman's station was pretty bare. Not much
|Of the original controls, only the Johnson bar remains,
clearly damaged from the impact.
|The brick from the firebox
remains, but has all fallen to the
floor of the box. Did this happen
upon impact or perhaps from the
salvagers who wanted access to
the boiler tubes?
|The fireman's side of the
locomotive. I believe these
brackets once held the air
|The first view of the steam
dome that was cut off, most
likely to allow easy access to
the steam tubes during
|Looking out the
Engineer's station, only
small parts of the wood
cab frame remains.
|The engineer's side of
the cab from the
|Looking at the
Engineer's side of the
rear boiler. These
brackets held up a
platform at one time.
|A look into the steam dome reveals the
main steam pipe cut in half. I believe
the dome was cut off to allow the
cutting torch to gain access to the rear
of the boiler tubes.
|Looking down into the cab through the
opening in the roof. I originally thought
the roof was metal and was torched off,
but now I believe it was actually made
of wood and rotted away.
|These views from the front, show that the smoke box was cut
off and the sand dome removed.
|This view from the front, shows that the
boiler tubes were completely removed.
This also shows a good view of the stay
bolts on the fire box and the main steam
tube, all of which were left behind.
|The front 3/4 view, showing that the smoke box and most of the running gear was all removed.
You can also see that the front frame was broken, most likely on impact. Although some have
suggested that the frame was actually cut later on and not damaged during the wreck.
|These views are my pictures of Hillcrest Lumber's # 9 48 ton Class B Climax. SN # 1359. Although, 6 years newer
than the Rutledge # 103, it was likely a very similar design. Hillcrest # 9 was located at the BC Forest Museum on
Vancouver Island, BC, when I took these pictures of it in June, 2004.
|This is Climax # 1493. Viewed here in 1949 just before
being scrapped. It was owned by the Crown-Willamette
Paper Co. It's cab and boiler are a very close match to
the Rutlege Climax.
Courtesy Marc Ruesser & Steam in the woods.
|This photo provided by Ed Vasser is probably a closer
match as it's serial number # 872 and was built just
prior to the Rutledge number 103.
Dirk Kinsey photo, Dennis Thompson Collection
|This diagram shows how the Incline worked. It's not quite to scale, but the south slope was much steeper than the north
slope. In the second operation, 1928-1930, steam donkeys located at the top of the lncline pulled locomotives and log
cars up and over, one at a time.
This locomotive was either being let down the south slope or pulled up the south slope when something went wrong.
The cable or donkey failed and sent the locmotive careening down the slope at a high rate of speed. It jumped the
tracks and came to a rest, broken, about 1/4 mile south of the south base of the Incline.
|Additional Information and Emails
What an amazing web site you have!!!. It is an absolute gold mine for everything that I love about railroads!!!. A fellow
from Potlatch told me about this locomotive in 1962. The last news that I heard about the loco was that someone had
come in there with a D-8 tractor and skidded parts or all of it out for salvage. The rumor that I heard was that it
was trapped by a forest fire when the track was destroyed. It is wonderful to hear the real story. My brother just finished
his career with the Forest Service so I forwarded the story to him. He heard about it at the same time.
|I want to give credit and thanks to the following folks and websites for some information contained herein:
James Hefner of http://www.survivingworldsteam.com/
For providing the serial number and lumber company of this locomotive.
Ed Vasser of http://www.trainweb.org/climaxlocos/index.html
For providing an excellent Climax website and resource in which additional information about
this locomotive was obtained and for providing a picture of a similar model.
Andrew Brandon, owner of RumorWeb & Ted Curphey
Who submitted this information to RumorWeb, in which I based my initial search for this loco.
If you have any information or pictures or information that you'd like to add to this article,
please EMAIL ME anytime. I'm especially looking for any photos of this particular locomotive,
including both when it was in use and after it was abandoned.
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|Copyright © 2004, 2005 Brian McCamish, All Rights Reserved
Note about the photos on this site:
Most photos were taken by me, except for those that are otherwise indicated. I usually allow people to use my photos for personal use or
websites. Simply Email me. I may not have authority to grant permission regarding some photos that were only loaned to me by others
specifically for this website. Every effort has been made not to include other's photos without the proper permission and credits, however, if
you see any photos which belong to you and that I don't have permission to use, I apologize. If you send me an Email, I will remove the
photos immediately or give proper credit, which ever you wish
This locomotive was featured in an article about abandoned locomotives in the magazine
Railfan & Railroad, March 2007...by Jeff Terry.
Mr. Terry used a photo from this website with our permission for that article.