History of the Shay Locomotive #122 at Turtle Bay

Turtle Bay Museum’s Shay Locomotive #122 is a classic design that captures the excellence and marvel of early locomotives. Designed by Ephraim Shay and built in 1884 by Lima Locomotive Works, it is the oldest surviving Shay Locomotive in existence. When it, and about a dozen similar locomotives made their appearance in the forests of Michigan, they almost instantly transformed the entire logging industry. They fulfilled the “Three F’s” to a tee: Their function far exceeded even the optimistic expectations; their components fit together perfectly; and they had that certain form or  appearance which instantly fulfilled the concept in the observer’s mind of just exactly what a loggingbigrapidswesternrestored.jpg locomotive should look like.

Shay #122 was first used in Big Rapids, Michigan in the fall of 1884 and quickly became integrated into all aspects of lumber mill operation. It sped up the process of transferring logs to the mill, and sawn lumber to appropriate drying locations, as well as moving ‘bobby’ cars throughout the lumber yards. In 1901, when  Shay #122 was sold to the El Dorado Lumber Company at Camino,  near Placerville, California, it continued to operate efficiently in the mill yards. Over the next 70 years or so Shay #122 over went numerous updates and cosmetic changes to match the changing needs and safety concerns of a locomotive. Tom Jenkerson, one of the Camino engineers of the Shay #122 became particularly fond of the locomotive and oversaw much of it’s handling in California, and made sure this engine was properly preserved when it was retired in 1951. Thanks to Tom’s attention Shay #122 is fully intact and could be put back into service with nothing more than a minor overhaul, fresh water and oil, and a track upon which to run!

Is anyone interested in building a narrow gauge railroad? To see the Shay #122 visit Paul Bunyan’s Forest Camp at the Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding or visit the website www.turtlebay.org for more information