|Contextual Notes||At the end of the nineteenth century, Frederick Weyerhaeuser headed a Midwestern timber concern that was said to be the largest lumber business in the country. By this time, most of the old growth forests in the Great Lakes area were logged. Weyerhaeuser needed more trees to harvest and looked to the Southern and Western states. In 1891, while investigating the two regions, he moved to St. Paul and two years later moved to Summit Street next door to an old time St. Paul resident, James J. Hill. James J. Hill, President of the Great Northern Railway, was just completing the railroad from St. Paul to Seattle. Weyerhaeuser and Hill became good friends, and they occasionally discussed the Pacific Northwest. By 1900 James Hill had gained the controlling interest in the Northern Pacific Railroad, the major competitor of the Great Northern in Washington. With the purchase of the railroad company came the remnants of the 44,000,000 acres (68,750 square miles) of land the Northern Pacific once owned along its railroad route from Lake Superior to Puget Sound. The Northern Pacific had received this land from the federal government in the 1870s and early 1880s for constructing the transcontinental railroad. One evening the conversation between Hill and Weyerhaeuser turned to timberlands in Washington owned by the Northern Pacific. The conversation became negotiation because Weyerhaeuser needed trees and Hill needed cash. Nothing much is known about the negotiations except that it was claimed that Weyerhaeuser made an offer of $5 an acre for 900,000 acres of land ($4,500,000) and Hill put a price of $7 an acre ($6,300,000). They arrived at an agreed price of $6 an acre ($5,400,00). The agreement was $3,000,000 down and eight semiannual payments of $300,000 plus interest. The down payment strained Weyerhaeuser's finances and stretched his capacity to raise money to the utmost. On January 3, 1900, the papers were signed and the property was transferred to Weyerhaeuser. This was one of the largest single land transfers in American history. As part of the agreement, Hill gave Weyerhaeuser extremely low rates for eastbound shipping for timber. No one knew how much timber there was and many thought the purchase was quite speculative. The purchase turned out to be exceedingly cheap. Twelve years later, it was determined that Weyerhaeuser had paid only 10 cents per 1000 board feet (one board foot is 2 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches). Shortly after the purchase, Weyerhaeuser and other investors formed the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company. Weyerhaeuser continued to purchase timberland in Washington and by 1903 the company's holdings had increased by 67 percent to 1,500,000 acres. Although the company established a sawmill in Everett in 1903, manufacturing lumber was a secondary activity until 1915. From 1900 to 1915 the firm managed its holdings, sold timber to other sawmills, and purchased more timberland. |
This particular locomotive (s/n 60561) was built in August 1928 for Weyerhaeuser Timber Company's operations at Vail.
Vail is a community 16 miles southeast of Olympia in southeast Thurston County. It was named for William Vail who owned farmland and timber land in the vicinity, by a logger named Cosby.
Weyerhaeuser Timber Company operated three camps out of its Vail, Washington Headquarters Camp, starting in early 1928. This was one of the world's largest logging operations, averaging 1,000,000 feet per day. Their railroad was enormous by logging standards-98 miles in all, including 26 miles of main line extending from Vail to the tidewater log dump at South Bay, near Olympia. From there the logs were towed by barge to the giant Weyerhaeuser mill at Everett.