The Shay Locomotive Exhibit Is Open Year-Round!
The Shay locomotive was the most popular and prolific mode of steam transportation used in the Pennsylvania lumber industry from 1880 to 1920. Built for power, not speed; the Shay featured a drive-shaft and gear system that supplied even and steady power to all its wheels. This allowed it to easily traverse the steep and uneven terrain of north-central Pennsylvania, on expediently-built lumber railroad tracks and grades.
The museum’s Shay locomotive was commissioned in 1908; manufactured by the Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio. It was delivered by rail car to the B&O rail yard in Erbacon, West Virginia on October 12, 1912, where employees from the Davis-Aken Lumber Company took possession of it and transported it to the company headquarters in Woodbine, WV, for its final assembly and testing. When they got it ready and running, it was designated engine #2 and transferred to the company’s band mill operation in Skyles, WV, where it worked for 13 years hauling finished lumber from the mill to the rail yard in Erbacon. The Skyles mill stopped production in 1926, and the re-structured Aken Lumber Company moved their operations to Fenwick, WV, where a new band mill was constructed. The Shay was then used to haul logs from Laurel to Lost Flats, WV, until 1938 when the Akens Lumber Company filed for bankruptcy. The Ely-Thomas Lumber Company purchased the Aken Lumber Company’s Fenwick operation, and found use for Shay #2 as a switch engine in the lumber company rail yard. The Ely-Thomas Lumber Company owned facilities in Werth, Summerville and Richwood, WV, in addition to the one in Fenwick. Due to maintenance costs and a change in transportation technology, the engine was condemned by the Ely-Thomas Company in 1962. It was placed in a siding at the Fenwick yard where many railroad buffs and historians stopped to visit; interested folks from all 50 states and Canada. Two years later in 1964, members of the Penn-York Lumberman’s Club working with the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission to establish the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum came to an agreement with owner Ralph Ely to purchase Shay #2 for the price of $3,900.00. It was shipped by rail to Galeton, PA, where it would be restored to its current show condition over the next 5 years. The engine was moved from a garage at the Kramer Lumber Yard in Galeton to the completed museum engine house building by flatbed truck in 1972. It has been a part of the museum’s exhibits ever since.