Winter Harbor, Prince of Wales Island

A steam donkey sits abandoned in Winter Harbor on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska. This logging engine was invented in 1881 by John Dolbeer, a founding partner of the Dolbeer and Carson Lumber Company in Eureka, California. The mobile engine was a significant development for industrial scale logging because it could drag or "yard" very large logs up or down steep mountain slopes and eventually to tidewater. This engine is on log skids and was moved by attaching a cable to a tree, stump or another strong anchor, and the machine would winch itself overland to the next yarding location. The internal-combustion engine led to the development of the diesel-powered tractor crawler which eventually put an end to the steam donkey. Consequently, a great number now sit abandoned in the forests, and although some have been preserved in museums, very few are in operating order. See a video of a steam donkey in action here and learn more here. Click here to download the CoastView app and explore more of Winter Harbor and Prince of Wales Island.