Meadow River Lumber was a giant among Central Appalachian hardwood manufacturers. The railroad served a vital role – keeping the big mill stocked with logs. Once the land of log trains, West Virginia’s array of railroads included many significant timber-related operations. This was the last and most long lived of them all – and one of the most colorful Meadow River Lumber is remembered by railfans of the 1950s as an especially compelling combination of geared steam power and mechanized logging. Diesel-electric switchers came onto the scene, but the last of Meadow River’s steam remained available for service until the mid-1960s. Two steamers found new homes on the Cass Scenic Railroad.
Brothers Tom and John Raine spearheaded the company’s formation in 1906. Building a shortline railroad connection and mill preceded log trains and their hardwood loads. The mill entered production in 1910. By the last 1920’s, Meadow River was heralded as “World’s Largest Hardwood Manufacturer.”
The span of rail-logging involved eight hard-working geared steam locomotives (six Shays, Heisler, Climax: and three diesel electrics. The final log train ran in May 1971, six months after Georgia-Pacific bought MRLCo.
The company’s innovative machine shop designed and produced a wealth of equipment specifically tailored for the demands of fulltree utilization – including steel log cars and loaders,
And skidders with enlarged capabilities. Numerous examples of this can-do technology survive at Cass, where Skidder No. 1 – the East’s last steam-powered skyline yarder (and one of the largest) – is a true standout among interpretive displays.
Sticking to rail-related subjects, this book celebrates Meadow River Lumber’s grand saga through a comprehensive text, 127 photos and track system map.