The Angelina County Lumber Company log car located outside of Stephen F. Austin State University’s Forestry Building will be transported Friday, Nov. 12, to the Southern Forest Heritage Museum in Long Leaf, Louisiana. It will join other historic structures and machinery at the museum that has been recognized as the most complete historic sawmill complex in the Southern U.S.
The Angelina County Lumber Company, active from 1890 to 1923, constructed a tram railroad along which log cars transported abundant loads of East Texas timber to local sawmills. For the past 50 years, the Angelina County Lumber Company log car accompanied a 36-ton Shay locomotive on the SFA campus highlighting the history of forestry in East Texas.
In October, the Shay locomotive was transported to Harbor Springs, Michigan, where it will undergo much-needed renovations by the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society and its partners. Following restoration efforts, the locomotive will be displayed and introduce visitors to the contributions of Ephraim Shay, inventor of the Shay locomotive and longtime Harbor Springs resident.
Although Dr. Hans Williams, dean of SFA’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, is saddened to see the historic relics leave campus, he emphasizes the transfer of ownership is the right thing to do.
“We don’t have the resources to properly take care of these pieces,” Williams said. “It would be irresponsible for us to leave them in a deteriorating state. We had to do something to save that history.”
The Southern Forest Heritage Museum and its research center develops, preserves and maintains a sprawling, historic sawmill complex while promoting and interpreting the importance of forests and the forest industry in the South.
The community of Long Leaf was established by Crowell and Spencer Lumber Company, and in 2008, the museum complex was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“There are very few sites like this anywhere in the United States,” said Everett Lueck, past president of the Southern Forest Heritage Museum and general manager of the museum’s railroad operations.
The museum houses the world’s only remaining Clyde rehaul skidder. Historically, this towering piece of equipment pulled harvested logs to railroad tracks for loading on log cars.
Additionally, the museum houses two of the six remaining McGiffert log loaders. The Angelina County Lumber Company log car will be displayed alongside these pieces of machinery.
“One McGiffert log loader is 90% restored, and once it is up and running, we will use the Angelina County Lumber Company log car to show how the loaders work,” Lueck said. “These loaders are from the same era as the log car, so it’s a perfect fit.”
Eventually, the museum hopes to raise funds to sandblast and repaint the log car.
Lueck said the addition of the log car will play an integral role in the museum’s ongoing efforts to share the story of forest heritage across the South.
To learn more about the Southern Forest Heritage Museum, visit forestheritagemuseum.org.