Horses and High Wheels
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Volcanoguy
N 44° 03.539 W 121° 19.091
10T E 634705 N 4879799
Sign associated with the set of High Wheels on display in Drake Park.
Waymark Code: WM88T
Location: Oregon, United States
Date Posted: 03/02/2006
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member Volcanoguy
Views: 13

Sign associated with the set of High Wheels on display in Drake Park. The High Wheels are located in the park across Riverside from the intersection with Louisiana.

Marker Name: Horses and High Wheels
Marker Text: With an ingenious mechanism, horses lifted and pulled huge, heavy logs over rugged terrain.
Use your imagination for a moment and step back in time. From 1916 to 1929, the nearby forest was bustling with more than 200 “high wheel” log skidders. Each was pulled by four draft horses - big, heavy animals well-trained in logging. Over rough ground and loggins slash, these gentle giants hauled their heavy loads year round.
Using one or two horse, a “buncherman” would pile the logs into tight stacks. Then, using a small shovel, it was the job of the “gopherman” to dig a tunnel underneath the logs for the chain that was wrapped around the logs and attached to the high wheel.
In 1929, diesel replaced hay. Able to pull twice as much weight, diesel tractors usurped the horses and an era passed. The photo above shows how the wheels were reinforced with steel to brace them for heavier loads.
These 11-foot high wheels weigh 1,500 pounds each and are constructed of white oak spokes and eucalyptus axles. Eucalyptus is naturally oily and lubricates the wheels.
Moving big logs over rugged terrain made early logging difficult and challenging. Trees had to be felled, moved by high wheels about a quarter mile to landings, and loaded onto railroad cars headed for the mill.
Trees were felled and cut into 16’ lengths with crosscut saws. Each team of horses hauled one to three logs, whatever could fit underneath the wheels.
The cleverness of the high wheel skidder’s design was revealed when the horses drew ahead. The sliding tongue pulled out and hoisted the front end of the logs off the ground. Friction was greatly reduced making hauling the logs much easier. When going downhill, the tongue slid backwards, dropping the logs so they could act as a brake, preventing the heavy load from catching up to the horses.
Listen to them now, as they squeak and groan under the weight of their heavy loads. Smell the fresh cut ponderosa pine; the scent of sagebrush mixed with dust. Hear the horses as the snort and blow and their huge, steel-shod hooves clink against the lava, while strong, sweating men chip away at bark and heartwood with axe and crosscut saw until another forest giant falls to the call of “TIMBER!”

Historic Topic: Modern Age 1900 to date

Group Responsible for placement: City Government

Marker Type: City

Region: Central Oregon

County: Deschutes

State of Oregon Historical Marker "Beaver Board": Not listed

Web link to additional information: Not listed

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Recent Visits/Logs:
Date Logged Log User Rating  
Tootsie.22 visited Horses and High Wheels 06/06/2022 Tootsie.22 visited it
TheBeanTeam visited Horses and High Wheels 04/20/2007 TheBeanTeam visited it
Volcanoguy visited Horses and High Wheels 03/02/2006 Volcanoguy visited it

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