Posts Tagged ‘Merrill & Ring Lumber Company’


On the weekend, RailGuy and I visited the Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa. One of the attractions we went to see was this Shay locomotive. Over the summer months, the engine operates a couple of times a week and we wanted to catch it before the summer was over, an inevitability drawing frighteningly closer every day. A Shay is a type of locomotive that uses reduction gearing in the drivetrain, as opposed to the common directly-driven design. The Shay locomotive takes its name from Ephraim Shay (1839-1916), who was a logger in Michigan in the 1860s. He developed the first Shay locomotive to take logs to market as an alternative to floating them down a river. The Lima Locomotive Works, of Lima, Ohio, began building Shays, adapted from Ephraim Shay’s original idea, in 1878. Between 1878 and 1945, 2768 Shay locomotives were built by Lima. Only 115 are known to survive today.


The Museum’s Shay has parts from two engines (No. 3 and No. 4) built by Lima in 1923 and 1925 for the Merrill & Ring Lumber Co. Ltd, based in Squamish. The engines were used in their forestry operations at Theodosia Arm on the British Columbia mainland. When Merrill & Ring closed their Squamish operations, the engines were sold to the Comox Logging and Railway Company and moved to Vancouver Island in May of 1942. By 1951, the boiler from engine No. 3 was transferred to the frame of No. 4 as the best of aging parts were salvaged to keep one good engine running. In 1951 the refurbished locomotive was transferred to Duncan Bay on the east coast of Vancouver Island, where it was put to work at the Elk Falls pulp mill. It remained there until it was taken out of service in 1974.


Thereafter, the locomotive was donated to the Museum by Crown Zellerbach and shipped to Ottawa by flat car. Restoration of the engine began in 1975. The locomotive was dismantled down to its frame and many parts were repaired or replaced. It was not until August of 1995 that the restoration was completed.

Noticing RailGuy admiring the locomotive, the engineer invited him aboard and he enjoyed a trip down the rails and back in the engine cab.


Engineer Gerry and Fireman John are among the many volunteers who have donated their time and knowledge to the restoration and operation of the Shay engine. More than 5000 hours of work were required to complete the restoration. The Museum receives ongoing assistance and support from the Bytown Railway Society.


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