Roots of Motive Power

Roots of Motive Power is an all-volunteer organization founded in 1982 to preserve and restore steam- and diesel-powered equipment used in the California north coast logging industry from the 1850s to the present.

2024 Roots Schedule

2024 Work Days & Board Meetings


Roots work days are generally held on the first and third Saturdays of each month from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM. When a work day falls on a three-day weekend, the work day is on that Saturday rather than Sunday. The public is welcome to tour the collection at no charge during work days.


Roots of Motive Power has over 700 members to date, many of whom actively restore and maintain equipment, lay track, serve as officers and directors, write and edit our newsletter, photograph events, and serve as docents and librarians for the Redwood Empire Railroad History

Contact Us

Contact Roots by mail at:
Roots of Motive Power
P.O. Box 1540 Willits, CA 95490

or Email us at :

About Us

Roots of Motive Power began in 1982 as a loosely organized group of friends in the timber industry who shared a love of local history and the antique machinery that shaped it. Working closely with the Mendocino County Museum, Roots volunteers embarked on an enthusiastic course of acquisition and restoration. Fittingly, the first project was the restoration of the Museum’s Murray Brothers spool donkey, a veteran of many years of service with Mendocino Lumber Company in Big River. Built on John Dolbeer’s patents in the 1880s, the veritical spool donkey represented the earliest attempts to mechanize logging. From this symbolic beginning, Roots volunteers moved quickly over the next few years to acquire and preserve steam equipment and other logging artifiacts of historic importance.

Roots has collected a very complete blacksmith shop, several period machine shop tools, and has a Research Library of early steam and logging engineering.  Roots collection of antique logging and railroad equipment comes to life several times each year during special public events, but our largest event is the annual Steamup.

Roots of Motive Power is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The Board of Directors is elected for a one year term by the membership each August at our Annual Meeting. After their election, and also during the Annual Meeting, the Board selects officers, whose terms of service are also annual.

Presents a class for interested students

Operating the Dipper Stick Shovel

Roots of Motive Power presents a special two-day class focusing on the operation of a dipper-stick shovel. We will be operating the Bucyrus Erie 50B steam shovel, and the Bucyrus Erie 22B diesel shovel. We will begin with a classroom session on Saturday, with the balance of the instruction being hands-on training with the two shovels. Lead instructor on the BE 50B will be Ken McCrary. Lead instructor on the BE 22B will be Joe Smith. Beginning students will be working with the BE 22B, while the advanced students and students with steam experience will be operating the 50B. 

 Space will be limited to allow all students operating time. 

 Cost:  $100/student plus current Roots Membership ($35)


Roots of Motive Power, P.O. Box 1540, Willits, CA  95490

For additional information, call Chris Baldo (707) 489-3984

Upcoming Events

2024 Roots sponsored events

April 6 & 7

Saturday & Sunday

Steam Engineering and Operating Safety Class

May 26


Willits Community Festival & Car Show

June 1 & 2

Saturday & Sunday

Railroad Operation and Safety Class

July 4


Willits Frontier Days Parade and Train Ride

July 20 & 21

Saturday &

Dipper Stick Shovel Class

August 18


Annual Meeting

September 7 & 8

Saturday & Sunday

Annual Steam Festival

December 1


Special Workday – Decorate Engine House. All are Invited to Help.

December 7


Christmas Holiday Express

2023 Events Roots Participates in but does not organize

March 14 – 16

Thursday – Saturday

Redwood Region Logging Conference Redwood Acres Fairgrounds Eureka CA

Regular work days

Wednesday Nights at Baldo Locomotive Works stating at 4:30pm

1st and 3rd Saturday of the month

Skookun Restoration

NOW Available to purchase
just $50.00 + (tax & shipping)

Call The Book Juggler in Willits, Ca. at (707) 459 – 4075
For 5 or more copies (resale), please email us at

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