Saturday, September 27, 2014

Southern Forest Heritage Museum Updated Sept 29 2014

The Southern Forest Heritage Museum, located in Long Leaf, Louisiana, is the oldest complete sawmill facility in the South. This complex is unique in that it is a complete sawmill complex dating from the early 20th century, and that it has the most complete collection of steam-powered logging and milling equipment known to exist. The museum is spread over a 57 acre area. On the property is the commissary, providing an entrance to the museum, the Planer Mill, the Planer Mill Power Plant, the Water Pumping Station, the Round House, the Machine Shop, the Carknocker Shop, the Sawmill, the Sawmill Power Plant, and Storage Sheds. Railroad equipment that can be seen at the museum includes three locomotives, a McGiffert Loader, and a rare Clyde Rehaul Skidder.  In addition, one can see many artifacts that were left in place when the mill closed February 14, 1969.

Inside the welcome center. 

No. 400 as she sat in the Louisiana woods (as it hangs in the welcome center-painting by Grady)

 The sawmill in better times.

Red River and Gulf No. 106 as she works the sawmill

 No. 202 in action (Baldwin 2-6-0)


Loco Bells

Originally the Crowell and Spencer Lumber Co. used a shay. Notice how the log cars are bending the light rail as opposed to the shay. Pay special attention to the design of the log cars, you will see a preserved car down the page.

UPDATE-I recently found this picture on the web. It was taken by the American Hoist & Derrick Co. of one of their cranes at the Longleaf Lumber Co.

The Sawmill

We start at the sawmill. The area the concrete pad is covering is the location of the original log pond. The track you see was used to dump the logs into the pond. The Crowell and Spencer, and later Crowell Lumber Company, shut down railroad operations in 1954. The log pond was filled in and later concreted because it remained boggy. Logging trucks delivered logs after the railroad was closed. It should be noted that nothing was discarded of the railroad. Items were pushed aside and left to alone. This is what makes this place so special, with exceptions to items being refurbished, every else is as it was left.

A b/w showing the log dump, pond and tracks.

 The log chute, notice it's constructed of rail with concrete in between. The section that went into the log pond was removed long ago, and to the right you can see where the logs were rolled into the chute from the logging trucks.

 After the log pond was filled in and trucks were delivering the logs, this attachment was added to the log chute. I had several water spray nozzles to clean the logs of dirt and mud before they went into the saws.

An overview of the log pond (concrete pad area) . From the center to the right, the engine house, machine shop, McCarty loader and the carknockers shed in the distance.

The highest paid man in the complex, the saw filer, and his office above.

Original chalk marks are still on the order board.

The old dry kiln in the distance.

Equipment Storage Area

Lumber carriers

Hyster "logging arch" There are two of these on site.


This lumber is original from when the mill closed in 1969.

 View from the lumber storage shed across to the carknockers shed.

Planer Mill

 Trusswork in the Planer Mill

 Pumphouse, this pumped water from the creek to various areas of the complex.

 The siding at the Planer Mill

 The siding at the Planer Mill

 The siding at the Planer Mill

 Corliss Steam Engine that powers the Planer Mill Equipment

Corliss Steam Engine

The three boilers that powered the Corliss. Manufactured in 1910 in Chattanooga TN.

 The view of the sawmill from the Planer Mill.

Next, we go up to the roundhouse.
Locomotive #400
She's been sitting here since 1954

Our tour guide Fran watches me as I shoot entirely too may pictures.

Clyde Double Ended Skidder

Part of the original ROW remains.
 (and the discarded debris from a logging railroad)

In these debris is parts of a Shay locomotive. 

 Cabbage Stack

M4 Motorcar

 Log Car Remains

 McGiffert Log Loader (1 of 2 on site)

 202's Tender

 Oil Car

McGiffert Loader axles (first 2 sets front to back)

Machine Shop

Locomotive #106

Original Log Car

 Original Log Car

 McGiffert Loader, log cars remains in front of #106

 McGiffert Loader, log cars remains in front of #106

McGiffert Log Loader #2

My always trusty Steed.

The museum needs your support. Please make a donation to help save our history.

Memberships are available from the museum website.

I hope you enjoyed the tour and if you can, I recommend a visit. 


  1. Wow... Thanks for all the pictures and information! This is definitely on my "Must See" list. I'm amazed at the amount of equipment that's still there. I'll have to see if I can go down there this summer.

    - James

  2. Hi Jim
    Glad you enjoyed it, the folks there are great are very friendly, take a cooler with plenty of cool drinks, looks like summer has arrived (102 in Shreveport today)
    If you go down you probably want to stay in Lafayette, plenty og good hotels and good cajun food. Forest Hill is a little sparse, although it's the nursery capitol of LA.

  3. Thanks for the tip on the motels, I was searching for a place to stay last night online. According to the computer, I'm about 10 hours of driving away from there, so I will definitely need to stay overnight (or two). I'm thinking about making the trip with a couple of train buddies later this summer... my wife said it is too hot to go to an outdoor museum!

    - Jim (or James, I answer to either)

  4. Very good photos! I'm originally from the Pacific Northwest and it's interesting to see the similarities and differences between the equipment used in that region and the South. The biggest differences are in terrain and in the timber. Logging railroads in Washington state had to cope with steep grades, mountain slopes and, depending on the elevation, very deep snow. The trees...Douglas fir, Sitka spruce and cedar...there are enormous, so a logging train might carry only two or three logs per car.

    Chuck (in Texas)

  5. Hi Chuck
    I know what your talking about, I'm originally from NW Montana, a timber town called Libby.

  6. Hi Dean,
    I've been to Libby...beautiful country!