Antique Berger Loading Donkey

Berger Loading Donkey
Editor's note: The vast majority of equipment featured on this website is NOT for sale. What follows is an exception. As this was posted, (October 2012) this piece of equipment was for sale as indicated, but regardless of whether you want to buy it or not the story of this piece of iron is compelling, and I expect this to remain a part of this website as a unique profile of history long after the machine in question moves on to where ever unique pieces of logging history go when their time has come.

Stanley D Lane an 82 year old Humbolt County resident, sent this picture of his Berger Loading Donkey. Mr. Lane owned a very successful auto repair shop in Arcata, CA for many years, but was no stranger to the logging industry. In his youth he worked for the California Barrel Company, G.L. Spiers Logging and Mill, Herb Dillon Logging Company, Holmes Eureka Logging and Lumber Company, and Lee’s Logging (his first wife’s father’s company). He now logs for himself…but might be willing to sell the 42 acres of timber (Registered Tree Farm) nine miles from Willowcreek, CA. (We’ll get back to that story later.)

Mr. Lane got the Berger Loading Donkey from logger, Warren Mason and son, Tim Mason, who had bought it new in 1943 from an Oregon company…not sure which one. The number 639 is embossed on the frame. When Mr. Lane obtained it, it had a #59 Ford V-8 engine in it. Packrats had covered it with sticks, leaves, etc. creating an insulation which protected it. He cleaned the old donkey up, took out the engine and replaced it with an 8-BA Ford V-8 re-built engine. That old #59 engine had a distributor in front of the engine that made it hard to get to…so it was sold to a man who put it into an old truck and reported that the engine still worked beautifully!

Once Mr. Lane had the Berger Loading Donkey cleaned up and working, he fell two large Port Orford Cedar trees and made two skids as a sled. He used the rest of the lumber for the cross members, put a metal roof on it, placed a deck on front and WaLa! On further examination he found it had friction blocks on the drum which had rotted out. He lifted up that drum with his large Gerlinger forklift and disassembled it. He found a place in Eugene, OR which specialized in making these blocks and had new ones made from a special hard wood that they brought from overseas. Once the Loading Donkey was re-assembled, he had it rigged to a spar pole. You can see in the picture that it was still rigged to the spar pole but he has it disassembled now in preparation for the sale. Yes, he is selling this Berger Loading Donkey for $25K (negotiable), but the spar pole, mainline, haul-back, pass block, spreader bar with bell hooks are still usable and will go with the sale.

Now let’s get back to that property. In the picture you will see in the background a barn, cabin, and old-fashioned (antique) gas pump built as if it were an old gas station, it really houses bathrooms. Mr. Lane has built a mini town on that property which houses several cabins, a blacksmith shop, and a bunk house. It is run by hydro-electricity. That property has the most delicious cold water that runs from three year-round running large creeks/streams. The water has been tested as pure as pure can be.

The property straddles Hwy 299. There is the “house” side, and the “mill” side. The property is a 42 acre registered tree farm…still has the sign up…and houses quite a bit of timber still. Nestled under a 66’ long, 34’ wide, 22’ high building, with metal roof, sits the working mill. Mr. Lane built this building, as he puts it, “all by myself…well, myself, my Gerlanger forklift, and the Lord.” This mill is an American #4 Sawmill with a 52” saw and a carriage on a 60’ track. A D-8 motor runs it. And yes, it still runs “beautifully!”

That Willowcreek property, the Gerlinger Forklift and the mill are up for sale. So are several other pieces of machinery and another more modern mill. Mr. Lane loves company and is willing for anyone that would like to have a peek to join him any day but Saturday, and he will gladly give you a tour of the property and equipment. You can set up an appointment by calling 707.668.1817.

If you are interested in the Berger Loading Donkey pictured here, use the same phone number to set up an appointment or to negotiate a sale. He looks forward to your call.

- - Updated 12/20/2012
- - Updated 10/01/2012