The Falk

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The Elk River Mill & Lumber Co. locomotive #1, better known as the “Falk.” This 9 ton 0-4-0 gypsy locomotive was built in either 1882 or 1884, by Marshutz & Cantrell (also has been known as National Ironworks) of San Francisco. Globe Iron Works was also incorporated in 1882 and built locomotives similar to the Falk, and could have been involved in its construction. The Falk, and its sister engine the “Bear” were designed for use in Northern California’s logging railroads, and marked the changing of an era as steam power replaced the horse, mule and oxen teams which previously had wrestled with the redwoods. Noah Falk, a local timberman of the Humboldt Bay area purchased the the Gypsy No. 1 to use on his short logging railroad he had built in Arcata, CA to service his Dolly Varden Mill. Two years later the Falk was barged down the bay and set on a new track with led to another of Falk’s enterprises – the Elk River Mill and Lumber Co. The Falk operated there for 40 years, first as a log hauler and then as a mill yard switch engine. The Falk also served the small town of Falk, which had sprung up around the successful lumber venture.

The Falk is not a true gypsy engine in the traditional sense, but is a close variation which includes a capstan steam winch. The throttle is a ball valve that the engineer turns, much like turning on a water faucet.

The Falk has been restored and lives at the Fort Humboldt State Historic Park and is overseen by the Timber Heritage Association in Eureka, CA. The locomotive is owned by the City of Eureka, and is on loan to the California State Parks Department.

Falks run on 70.96 mm track and are painted black and unlettered only.

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