Wheels of steel, rolling on wood: pole roads from the history of logging
January 22, 2014 12:03 PM   Subscribe

If you're looking around historic logging regions, you might come across trucks, trains or even just axles with strange, wide steel wheels. They weren't intended to run on very large tires, but pole roads for logging. Here are some trains designed for such log roads, and here's a history of logging trucks that includes three types of wooden roads used to improve logging access. Here's a short clip of a logging train running on an elevated log track, and if you're thinking about building your own log road, The Timberman provides a lot of details and some schematics (Google books), straight out of 1918.
posted by filthy light thief (7 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
This is why I love Metafilter. I had never heard of these.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 1:57 PM on January 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

There's not a lot of references to them online, or maybe there are more search results buried beneath references to street names including "Pole Road," but I wonder if there are any remnants of these old roads, or if they have all decomposed in the century since they were placed.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:00 PM on January 22, 2014

I had heard of pole roads, but always imagined a very bumpy road "paved" with laterally-laid logs.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 2:30 PM on January 22, 2014

That would be a plank road.
posted by monospace at 2:35 PM on January 22, 2014

That was very interesting -- thank you!

I've done a lot of reading about the mining days in the Sierra Nevada and in the Comstock. What we maybe forget now is how integral timber was to those industries. They needed lumber for mine shafts, for railroad ties, for the log flumes that carried the timber from the forests to the mines -- not to mention for their homes and other structures, whether humble or flamboyant. It's staggering to think about how many trees -- forests, even -- must have been cut down and put to use in those days, and about the labor involved in felling and transporting and milling each and every one of the logs.

If you're interested in that sort of thing, here's a really interesting article called Timber for the Comstock.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:18 PM on January 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

You're thinking of a corduroy road, sandiette.
posted by CincyBlues at 5:35 PM on January 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Lots of old logging railways here on the west coast of BC.
Here are some pictures of a pole road log cart at the Powell River Forestry Museum
posted by islander at 5:39 PM on January 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

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