The best place to learn about logging in the Pacific Northwest during its 1850-1950 heyday is at Camp 18. Part outdoor museum, part gigantic hand-hewn log cabin with a restaurant and gift shop inside, Camp 18 near Elsie, Oregon is a fun place to poke around. (And the huge parking lot makes it easy to park any size rig you’re driving or towing). Whether you stop for a few minutes or stay for hours, there’s so much to see that you’ll never be “board.”
Although logging methods have changed over the years, the old days buzz to life at Camp 18 through a huge collection of Paul Bunyan-sized equipment: a high-speed, double-cut band saw with an immense blade over 60-feet long and 16-inches across; a hydroelectric water wheel; a steam yarder dating back to 1872; a timber flume from 1923; and an extensive assorted of steam shovels, tractors, cranes, and railroad cars. Signs are posted here and there, so you can get a feel for how the 20-foot handsaws and steam donkeys were used. Be glad it’s a bygone era and you don’t make a living this way anymore– logging was a very dangerous and physically demanding job. While admiring the antiques, also peek inside one of the old railroad cars– it’s actually a unique rest room!
After investigating the old-time logging equipment outside (all of it has been purchased, loaned or donated to Camp 18 and is still actively collected), wander inside the largest log cabin restaurant you’ve probably ever seen. On the way in, pose on the porch for a photo with Big Foot (or another wooden character). Gordon Smith, a “gyppo” or independent logger, cut red cedar and Douglas fir, then used it to build the mammoth cabin. The 85-foot-long beam that runs along the inside of the peak of the roof weighs 25 tons! Mr. Smith’s craftsmanship and attention to detail is evident throughout all 14,000 square feet. A pair of stone fireplaces keeps the place toasty, and lots of old logging photos and chain-saw art adorn the walls. Axes serve as handles for the massive doors. If you’re hungry, the American-style lumberjack meals are pretty good, especially the marionberry deep dish cobbler. A gift shop on the other side of the spacious cabin is worth a look, too.
Camp 18 (old logging camps were always numbered, never named) is a fun peek into the past. It’s a fascinating open-air logging museum as well as a tribute to a dangerous, backbreaking, and vital profession that helped build the Pacific Northwest. And here’s a clever trick– even if you can’t recall the name of the town that Camp 18 is near (Elsie), you can still easily remember Camp 18’s location– the name itself reminds you–18 miles from the Oregon Coast on Highway 26. T – I – M – B – E – R!
Camp 18 is located at Mile Post 18 on US Highway 26 (22 miles east of Seaside)
42362 Highway 26
Elsie, Oregon 97138
Phone: (800) 874-1810 or (503) 755-1818
“Donkey” is a generic term given to portable steam engines used in logging. “Donkey sleds” are the heavy sled-like wooden frames that steam engines were mounted on.
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In addition to writing about her travels, Denise Seith is also a treasure hunter and loves a good latté. She and her husband own an online gold prospecting and metal detecting equipment store found at GoldRushTradingPost.com