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Donkey, Murray Brothers Vertical Spool Steam

  • Year Built:  c. 1900
  • Type of Equipment: Donkey
    Dolbeer Vertical Spool
  • Traction: Sled
  • Manufacturer: Murray Brothers Machine Works
  • Manufacturer Location: San Francisco, CA
  • Non-Motive Power: Steam
  • In Service: Mendocino Lumber Company
  • Donor: Jim Sweet
  • Owner: Roots of Motive PowerMurray Brothers Machine Works of San Francisco was one of the early manufacturers of Dolbeer patent spool donkeys, using one of John Dolbeer’s designs of steam logging machinery from 1883. The Dolbeer Spool Donkey was the first steam machinery used in the woods. It was designed to use large manila rope around the vertical capstan, but wire rope eventually replaced it. This Spool Donkey design was used for nearly half a century, even as more advanced machines came into use. It was limited to a yarding distance of roughly 300 feet because there was no place to store cable other than carefully laying it on the ground, and the fact that there was no power to take the cable back to the woods for the next log. Despite its limitations, the simplicity of design and flexibility of the little machine to aid larger, more modern machines helped make the Dolbeer Spool Donkey a very popular logging machine. This machine was owned and operated by Mendocino Lumber Company. It was last used to gather logs stranded along the banks of Big River after the splash dam river drives moved the majority of the logs to the mouth of the river at Mendocino. Jim Sweet of Fort Bragg who, along with his junior high school class and Boise Cascade foresters, removed the machine from Big River, donated this donkey to the Mendocino County Museum in 1973. The donkey was restored to its present condition by Roots of Motive Power volunteers in 1982 as their first-ever project. This spool donkey compares with the “Improved” Dolbeer Spool Donkey, built in 1900 by Marshutz and Cantrell of San Francisco. The machines are similar in design, except for the addition of a powered drum to haul the cable back to the woods for the next log.