A forest railway, forest tram, timber line, logging railway or logging railroad is a mode of railway transport which is used for forestry tasks, primarily the transportation of felled logs to sawmills or railway stations.
In most cases this form of transport utilised narrow gauges, and were temporary in nature, and in rough and sometimes difficult to access terrain.
Before the railway was invented, logs were transported in large numbers from the forest down rivers either freely or on wooden rafts. This was not without its problems and wood was often damaged in transit, lost in floods or stranded in shallow water. Suitable rivers were often unavailable in mountainous terrain.
Simple wagonways, using horses and wooden rails, were used from the 18th century. However the invention of the steam locomotive and steel rails soon led to these being employed for forestry. However the difficult terrain within forests meant that narrow-gauge railways, which took up less space, were lighter and easier to build and enabled tight curves to be laid, were preferred. These were the so-called forest railways. In particularly large areas of forest or forests of unusually large trees, such as in the northwestern USA, extensive forest railways were even built using standard gauge exclusively for forestry tasks. Special geared locomotives such as the Shay and Climax locomotive were developed for high tractive effort on rough track. Some forest railways became common carriers when cleared forest land was converted to agricultural or recreational use.
In cases where the railway itself was considered very short-term, or the region was extremely difficult to access, logs would often be laid into the ground as a pole road, rather than the cost and logistics of laying steel rails and sleepers. Pole roads could be extensive; several examples in the southeastern United States extended up to 20 miles at the end of the nineteenth century, and used purpose-built steam locomotives.
In addition to steam traction, diesel and petrol-driven locomotives were also used later on. These largely brought animal-hauled transportation to an end on the forest railways. Also common were routes that just used gravity. Wagons loaded with wood would simply roll downhill in a controlled fashion under the pull of gravity. Foresters also travelled on these, at some risk to their lives on occasions – as brakemen. Empty wagons were hauled uphill again by horses.
From the second half of the 20th century forest railways were threatened by road transportation and by the end of the 1960s they had practically disappeared from western Europe. Roads were often laid in their place on the old trackbeds.
In a few Eastern European countries forest railways survived longer, particularly in Russia where there are still some today. In Hungary too there are several forest railways in active service today, some are also used for tourist traffic. The numerous forest railway operations in Romania were closed, with a few exceptions, by the 1990s. In Western Europe there are very few which are even preserved as museum railways.
In Asia and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) the history and fate of logging tramways/forest railways is similar to Europe, with most lines either converted to motorised truck transport or closing down in the 1960s. Significant numbers of locomotives and other remnants of the former lines are found in museums and museum railways in Australia.
|Reichswald Forest Railway||Sebalder Reichswald||dismantled|
|Ebersberg Forest Railway||Ebersberg||dismantled|
|Ruhpolding–Reit im Winkl State Forest Railway||Ruhpolding-Reit im Winkl||1000||23||1922||1936/37||dismantled|
|Spiegelau Forest Railway||Spiegelau-Finsterau||600||100+||1909||1960||dismantled|
|Zwieselau Forest Railway||Zwieselau-Buchenau||600||14,5||1930||1958||dismantled|
|Bächentalbahn||Fall||750||~ 10||crosses border (see Tyrol)|
|Schorfheide Forest Railway||Schorfheide, Döllnkrug-Höpen||600|
|Wasgau Forest Railway||Bundenthal-Rumbach||600||14,5||1921||1930||dismantled|
|Muskau Forest Railway||Weisswasser-Bad Muskau||600||50+||1895||Museum Railway|
|Dörfl Forest Railway (WbD)||Dörfl||600||1||9,4||1924||1933||WbD|
|Großmürbisch Forest Railway (WbG)||(Alsörönök-) border Großmürbisch - Reinersdorfer Bach||760||1||~7,5||1935||1937||WbG||4 km in Hungary, dismantled|
|Großpetersdorf-Rumpersdorf Forest Railway (WGR)||Großpetersdorf - Rumpersdorf||760||1||~13,5||1920||~1933||WGR|
|Güssing - Rohr im Burgenland Forest Railway (WGR)||Güssing - Rohr im Burgenland||760||1||~27,0||1913||1921||WGR|
|Güssing - Neuberg im Burgenland Forest Railway (WGN)||Güssing - Neuberg im Burgenland||760||1||~14,0||1913||1921||WGN|
|Lockenhaus Forest Railway (WbL)||Lockenhaus||600||1||14,9||1926||1956||WbL|
|Punitz Forest Railway (WbP)||Punitz - Punitzer Gemeindewald||600||1||~9,0||Horses||1905||~1933||WbP|
|Haselbach Forest Railway||Nähe Fahrafeld: Forsthaus - Hochwiese||600||1||~2,5||Gravity, oxen, petrol-driven locos||1915||1918||BMF||dismantled|
|Forest Railway im Klauswald (WbK)||Klauswald, near Puchenstuben||600 ?||1||4,5||1930||1937||WbK|
|Langau - Lackenhofer Höfe Forest Railway (WbLL)||Langau-Lackenhof||1000||1||~ 6,7||Horses||~1845||1867||WbLL|
|Lunz-Langau-Saurüsselboden Forest Railway (WbLL)||Lunz am See - Langau - Saurüsselboden||700||1||12,2||Diesel||1920||1974||WbLL||Forest railway with limited public passenger services, dismantled|
|Lunz-Langau-Saurüsselboden Forest Railway (WbLL) branch||Langau - Lackenhofer Höhe||700||1||~6,6||Diesel||1920||1974||WbLL||Forest railway with limited public passenger service, dismantled|
|Forest Railway Nasswald||Schwarzau im Gebirge, Nasswald||600||0,6||Diesel, accumulator||1985||Museum railway, new line|
|Wastl am Wald - Hühnerkogel Forest Railway (WbW)||Wastl am Wald||600||1||~ 3,9||1934||1945||WbW|
|Forest Railway im Weinsberger Forst (WWF)||Martinsberg-Gutenbrunn - Berglucke||760||1||~35,9||1920||1933||WWF|
|Offensee Forest Railway (WbO)||Offensee, Steinkogl - Steibachl||800||1||13,9||1899||1954||WbO|
|Offensee Forest Railway (WbO)||Steibachl - Obere Moosau||800||1||1,6||1899||1954||WbO|
|Reichraming Forest Railway (WbRr)||Schallau-Maieralm-Hansigraben||760||1||16,5||1920||1971||WbRr|
|Reichraming Forest Railway (WbRr)||Maieralm-Unterweißwasser||760||1||13,0||1920||1971||WbRr|
|Reichraming Forest Railway (WbRr)||Reichraming -Hintergebirge||760||1||32,7||Diesel||1920||1971||WbRr||Forest railway with limited public passenger services, dismantled|
|Zinkenbach Forest Railway (WbZ)||Zinkenbach, Lagerplatz Hundsleiten-Königsbachalm||700||1||6,7||Diesel||1921||1967||WbZ||no passenger traffic, dismantled|
|Deutschlandsberg Forest Railway (WbD)||Deutschlandsberg - Freiland bei Deutschlandsberg||760||1||9,9||Steam||WbD||no passenger traffic, dismantled|
|Deutschlandsberg Forest Railway (WbD)||Kupper-Bärental||600||1||8,5||Steam||WbD||dismantled, link between Freiland and Kupper with 3.1 km long cable car (dismantled)|
|Deutschlandsberg Forest Railway (WbD)||Kupper-Hofbauer||600||1||9,4||Steam||WbD||Forest railway, no passenger traffic, dismantled|
|Frauenwald Forest Railway (WbF)||Steinhaus am Semmering- Rettenegg||600||1||22,0||Steam||1902||1958||WbF||Forest railway with limited public passenger services, dismantled, with two inclined lifts|
|Frohnleiten Forest Railway (WbF)||Frohnleiten-Traninger- Rossstall||760||1||12,4||1925||1951||WbF||dismantled|
|Frohnleiten Forest Railway (WbF) branch||Traninger- Dionys||760||1||5,6||1925||1951||WbF||dismantled|
|Gundersdorf Forest Railway (WbG)||Gundersdorf, Dampfsäge- Höllein||760||1||4,0||WbG||dismantled|
|Ingering Forest Railway (WbI)||Ingering -Seeboden||720||1||~10,5||~1885||1938||WbI||dismantled|
|Radmer Forest Railway (WbRa)||Hieflau-Radmer-Neuhaus||830||1||~14,0||1920||1967||WbRa|
|Radmer Forest Railway(WbRa)||Hieflau-Radmer-Neuhaus||900||1||~14,0||1200 V DC||1967||1979|
|Trieben Forest Railway (WbT)||Trieben - Lager Seyfried||800||1||~ 10,8||1900||~1939||WbT|
|Klammbach Forest Railway||Achenkirch||760||6,6||1914||1960||Klammbachwaldbahn|
|Bächental Forest Railway||Bächentalbahn||750||10,2||1930||1956||see also Bavaria|
(all lines on the Polish eastern border from north to south)
A logging railroad describes railroads, pole roads, tram roads, or similar infrastructure used to transport harvested timber from a logging site to a sawmill. Logging railroads vary in gauge and length, with most forested regions of the world supporting a railroad of this type at some point.
While most railroads of this variety were temporary, it was not uncommon for permanent railroads to take their place as a complement to logging operations or as an independent operation once logging ended.
|Bald Mountain Railroad||Jackman||1435||1915||1926||dismantled|
|Calais Railway||Calais - Woodland||1435||33||1835||Pan Am Railways||freight only|
|Carry Pond and Carry Brook Railroad||Moosehead Lake - Seboomook Lake||610||3||1914||1916||horse-drawn flat cars; dismantled|
|Eagle Lake and West Branch Railroad||Eagle Lake - Umbazooksus Lake||1435||21||1927||1933||transferred log drive pulpwood between river basins; dismantled|
|Franklin and Megantic Railway||Strong - Bigelow||610||48||1884||1935||Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad||dismantled|
|Phillips and Rangeley Railroad||Phillips - Rangeley||610||46||1890||1932||Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad||Victorian resort passenger service; dismantled|
|Ray Lumber Company||Bowerbank Township||1435||1912||1929||dismantled|
|Rumford Falls and Rangeley Lakes Railroad||Rumford - Kennebago||1435||75||1894||1936||Maine Central Railroad||dismantled|
|Seboomook Lake and Saint John Railroad||Seboomook Lake - Baker Branch Saint John River||1435||29||1919||1929||dismantled|
|Somerset Railroad||Bingham - Moosehead Lake||1435||81||1890||1933||Maine Central Railroad||Victorian resort passenger service; dismantled|
|Wild River Railroad||Gilead - Hastings||1435||16||1891||1904||dismantled|
|Saco Valley Railroad||Mount Carrigain||1435||11||1892||1898||dismantled|
|Sawyer River Railroad||Sawyer River||1435||14||1877||1927||dismantled|
|Success Pond Railroad||Berlin - Success||1435||42||1893||1906||dismantled|