Tag: Shay Engine

Category: Locomotive Type

In 1879, Ephraim Shay designed the prototype of the locomotive that would bear his name. He developed a gear-driven system in response to the special problems of moving heavy loads out of remote locations on temporary trackwork. Previously, railroads had been rarely used for logging because of the expense involved in laying tracks for locomotives of the period. Animal power was still the primary means of hauling logs out of the forest. The new Shay locomotive had a revolutionary effect on the timber industry. It was easy to maintain, as most of its moving parts were exposed on the outside and easily accessible. The Shay traveled almost anywhere that tracks could be laid-and it could traverse steep grades and twist its way around short radius curves that rod-driven locomotives could never have managed. It could find traction on rails laid on floating ties set on road beds of little more than forest humus. It could safely traverse shaky timber spans that men of the woods had put together with more optimism that skill to cross rivers, streams and deep ravines in the forests. Where other locomotives could not venture, the Shay was sent to do the job. Without such a reliable transportation mechanism, effective timber operations would have been precluded in vast areas of the Olympic Peninsula. After Shay patented his invention, the Lima Machine Works in Lima, Ohio, bought the right to build Shay locomotives and went into production. During the next fifty years, the Lima Machine Works made many improvements to the basic Shay design, and ultimately 2,770 were built. Shay locomotives were used in every state and many foreign countries for a variety of specialized work. - NRHP, 12 January 1984


Cass Scenic Railroad
  • NRHP
Shay Locomotive 549
  • NRHP
High Steel Bridge Shelton
Hetch Hetchy Railroad Engine No6 El Portal
Simpson Logging Company Locomotive No 7 and Peninsular Railway Caboose No 700
  • NRHP


Last Name Name AsNotedIn
Shay: Ephraim Shay
Lima Locomotive Works: Lima Locomotive Works

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