The "Heisler"

Pickering Lumber Co.

Steam-Powered “Geared” Locomotive

Built by:

Heisler Locomotive Works – 1918

Wheel Arrangement:

3-Truck Heisler


75 Tons

Donated by:

Pickering Lumber Corporation – 1957

Pickering Lumber No. 2 in service. This Travel Town Archive photo is from the Roy Grave Collection, Bancroft Library of the University of California at Berkley.

Similar to its Travel Town neighbor “The Shay” (Tour Stop “R”), Pickering Lumber No. 2 is a “geared” locomotive — one specifically designed to work on railroads with unusually steep, uneven tracks and lots of sharp curves – conditions common in logging, mining or dam construction operations.   Charles Heisler patented his idea for a geared locomotive in 1892.  Heisler’s design features two steam cylinders, canted inwards at a 45-degree angle to form a “V” arrangement that turns a central driveshaft – – this in contrast to Ephrem Shay’s design that incorporated vertically-mounted cylinders and an outside crankshaft.  Take a few minutes to walk around these two locomotives and look at the mechanical differences.  About 625 Heisler locomotives were produced between 1892 and 1941.

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More Interesting Information:

Our Heisler locomotive No. 2 shares a very interesting beginning with another Travel Town locomotive, the Santa Maria Valley No. 1000 (Tour Stop “T”).  Both locomotives were purchased new for construction of the O’Shaughnessy Dam in the Hetch Hetchie Valley near Yosemite National Park — a controversial project that created a water reservoir for the San Francisco Bay Area.  Following completion of the dam project, most of the locomotives owned by the Hetch Hetchie Railroad were sold off to other companies – and by happy coincidence two of them eventually made their way to Travel Town after serving on several different railroads!

Hetch Hetchie Railroad No. 2 as she looked all new and shiny at the Heisler factory in 1918.