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Van Natta Forestry and Logging

Welcome to the VanNatta Logging and Forestry site. In the pages that follow you will find information including extensive text and a parallel photographic history of the Van Natta Family whose ancestors have been logging in Columbia County Oregon for more than a century spread over 5 generations.


Notice: In the last 60 days: Dec of 2012 and January of 2013, this site has been converted away from FRAMES, and has been made generally HTML 5 compliant. Some browsers, particularly Firefox, don't make the transition nicely. If you are new to the site this won't be an issue, but if you have been here before browsers tend to remember the previous structure which can lead to display issues over the short term. The issues should clear themselves if you "reload" or "refresh" the display. This is a transitional issue that can arise if your browser remembers the way the site 'used to look' and then loads some of the new along with some of the old.... As soon as I get to it, this page istelf is going to get reworked, but he changes will be cosmetic and not structural so should not cause issues. I have not changed the content or the filenames so external links should not be broken There are around 450 pages of material accessible on this site. It is generally organized in groups by topic. A full of MAJOR TOPICS is found in a yellow box on the bottom of every page. Once you select a major topic, then the individual pages in that topic will appear in a yellow list on the left side of the screen.

Now Featuring a Native Plant guide with photos

Native Animal guide with photos

Lathe stuff of Loggers

Farm equipment for Loggers with photos

Roadbuilding machinery for Loggers


The earliest known family logging picture was taken near St. Helens around 1885, and shows a bull team pulling logs which were harvested near where the St. Helens High School now stands. From this Paul Bunyon style logging you will find threads all the way to the 21st century logging technology. Almost every page features one or more photos. To keep the whole process tolerably bandwidth friendly, thumbnails are generally imbedded in the text which may be expanded to a viewable size by using an appropriate hypertext link activator (Click on it!). The exception is this page where the thumbnails take you to major site indices. The list below will take you to major chapters which in some cases have numerous pages. Major chapters are also listed at the bottom of most pages. Frames are used often but some alternate viewing areas are provided for frames challenged browsers.

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Logging History

In the Beginning you will find text and photographs from the early days. Many of these photographs feature members of the Wikstrom family. This writer's paternal grandmother was a Wikstrom, daughter of I. G. Wikstrom, an old country Swede who settled in the St. Helens area in about 1885. Featured here is old family logging information as well as materials on Columbia County Logging Railroads. The logging history area is also augmented with gracious donations from others including the Irvin Logging Photos. We have quite a wide collection of old photos and well as some articles and links to other historical logging and railroad sites. The collection is not complete but does present a good variety.

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Early Skidders

The Log Skidder Development section will provide you a history of the development of the rubber tired log skidder from the mid 1950's when they were first introduced up to the present time. This page features a historic Wagner prototype skidder and a more contemporary (last 20 years) Cat 528 skidder. Machines of this type have handled ground logging for 30 years. To be sure, tracked vehicles have continued to be used, but where feasible, these rubber tired vehicles operate much less expensively than tracked vehicles. This page follows the skidders from the 1950's forward, and is followed by several pages devoted to current models. The machines have evolved fairly slowly but have never the less changed. The concept was more or less invented as a cottage industry and then taken over by the major manufacturers. The market is now dominated by Cat, John Deere, and Timberjack, though neither Cat nor John Deere were in the business early on.

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New Skidders

The new Morgan Silva Track features information on a new technology skidder with many new features designed to make it ecologically friendly. Among the largest rubber tired skidders ever produced in the world, the Morgan Silva Track combines steerable axles with an articulated frame and hydrostatic drive to make a machine capable of tremendous capacity. A logic box (and in recent models a computer) in the hydraulic drive assures that all wheels will spin and at the same time provides for the flexibility so the machine can turn without dragging its wheels as is characteristic of the mechanical drive/posi-traction skidders. Two completely isolated hydraulic systems are provided, one for the drive and the other for the traditional hydraulic functions. Speed is controlled via variable displacement pumps.

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Log Loaders

The Log Loader Page features various log loaders including the Drott 80R. Read here about the problems with rubber tired log loaders as well and their benefits as compared to a tracked loader. The narrative is extensive but there are pictures as well. There are a variety of other loaders in the Iron Museum also along with a numerous other machines including a Dico loader on rubber tires, an American 35A on Tracks and a classic combination yarder-loader, the Washington TL-6. Nothing like it has ever been made before or is likely to be made again. Hydraulic machines displaced the cable machines in the 1960's. Some models are specifically designed as log loaders but for the most part they are excavators with a modification package, usually consisting of a special boom (usually a straight one) and an elevated cab. Prior to that time, the heel boom with either tongs or a grapple was the standard. Loaders are still often called 'shovels' dating to the days that modified 'steam shovels' were used. If tongs were used loading a truck was a 3 man job. Besides the machine operator, ther would be one man to set the tongs, and the truck driver would usually stand on a platform above the truck cab and climb out on the load to release the tongs. The grapple which worked better in larger wood required only the shovel operator Of course it wasn't really a shovel as the shovel front was replaced with the heel boom, although occasionally someone just took the bucket off of a shovel and placed a grapple there. This configuration was called a 'scissors boom'.

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Trucks

The Truck Museum features various trucks of the VanNatta Family beginning with a 1938 International, and also featuring the "L" and "R" series Harvesters, along with an off highway Monster called the Payhauler as well as an Army M123A1C 10 Ton Tractor and including with a classic Dodge Power Wagon. There are thumbnail pictures all the way through which will expand. More than 20 trucks are to be found in the truck museum, mostly, but not all 4 wheel or 6 wheel drive. Trucks, of course, to many things other than work in the woods, but this collection of trucks is focused in that way. Many are VanNatta Trucks, but the collection has been augmented with other trucks of interest. While many of the trucks shown here are of an International Harvester heritage, this isn't to imply that they are the only kind of trucks in the woods. Actually, nearly every kind of truck has been used in the woods and some such as Kenworth, Peterbilt, and Pacific have a heritage from the Pacific Northwestt timber industry. We have IH trucks because the first truck we bought was an IH and we learned what was good and bad about them.

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Bulldozers

Loggers aren't loggers unless they have bulldozers and you won't be disappointed, because we have lots of them along with a few pictures of the neighbors dozers. In addition to the featured Fiat Allis 31, We have an AC HD21A, and a Caterpillar D-9, D-6C, and our D-4 Cat . Of these the 2 Cats are other people's Cats. Of these dozers, The FA 31 is clearly the largest at 425 HP. followed by the D9G at about 350, and the HD21 at 270 HP. These are all rock cats. the D-6C is an intermediate sized dozer equipped in this photo with an integral arch for logging. Dozers are the classic all purpose machine. One used to never see a logging side without one, but in recent years their popularity has declined. Between road building excavators and rubber tired skidders, who needs one? Similarly, logging has become increasingly specialized. The roads which are often the reason for having a dozer around are often built some years ahead of the logging.

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Logging Iron

The Iron Museum page features yarders, excavators, road graders, rock loaders and related machinery as well as still more log loaders and bulldozers. Find on this page a wide variety of machines and a rich selection of photographs. The text is considerable with pictures throughout so stay with it to the end even if you want to see only the pictures. Featured here is aChampion 760 Grader and a FIATALLIS 745 front end loader along with rock drilling equipment. For the index of over 20 machines push the thumbnail photo on the left. You can find all kinds of iron here. Old, New and other. We aren't selling iron, but what you will see here is a good sampling of what has been around over the last 50 years to provide a logger with the help that he needed to get the job done.

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Shop tools

Shop tools now have their own section. This includes machine tools, lathes, hand tools and welding equipment. Of special interest to loggers are field service trucks, welding rigs and the like. We maintain a well stocked machine shop for making those parts that you can't find elsewhere and also doing such things has hydraulic service that require some machine tools. The machine tools are out of a different century for a couple of reasons. They are inexpensive, and they are suited to the task. Modern electronic control machinery is not what you need for making one of a kind repair parts. Update: the Lathes have been moved to a new section.

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Hand Tools

Logger's use small tools also. Featured here are both new and old tools including Chain saws, hand saws, wedges, axes and a variety of hand tools. More than 25 saws and hand tools both old an new are to be found here.

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Places
This is a growing section which includes pages on West Oregon Communities as well as original photos of the Mount St. Helens eruption, and various photos of places, plants and animals of interest. anew.gif - 1418 Bytes
The Silvaculture Links page features links in the classic VanNatta narrative style to silvacultural sites throughout the world. There are forestry related links from around the world here and lots of them.

ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT

There are those among our number to periodically advocate that timber not be harvested. Not everyone has figured out that our forests are a renewable resource which like any crop will spoil if not tended to. The fact is that much of our western timber land is now being harvested for the second or third time since European settlers first moved west a little over 150 years ago. It has not occurred to them, that trees like any other crop this is not harvested ultimately spoils anyway. The ultimate destiny of unharvested western forests is a wildfire.

- - Updated 04/23/2010
- - Updated 06/26/2008
- - Updated 7/09/2006
- - Updated 3/20/2008