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"Falk" and "Gypsy"

Designed for use on Northern California's logging railroads the unique Gypsies got their name from the capstan head-winch which dominates their appearance. The advent of such a machine over 100 years ago marked the changing of an era as steam power replaced the horse, mule and oxen teams which previously had been employed to manoeuver logs in the forests. Only 20 of the Gypsies are known to have existed. Most were built between 1882 and 1892 by two San Francisco firms: Marchutz & Cantrell (also known as National Ironworks) and Globe Ironworks.

Two of the 20 still exist. One is called the Bear Harbor for the Bear Harbor Lumber Company for which it was built by Marchutz & Cantrell in 1892. The second is Elk River Mill & Lumber No.1, the "Falk".

Falk towing in the Northern California Redwood Forest

The picture right shows the Falk towing in the
Northern California Redwood Forest.

The "Falk" is not a true Gypsy engine in the traditional sense , but it is a close variation which includes a capstan steam winch. The Falk because of its shorter wheelbase appears stubby compared to the longer Bear Harbor. However there is another major difference the difference in the power transfer mechanism to the capstan winch.

The Falk is a straightforward design which uses two cylinders to power its drivers and a third, independent cylinder to power the capstan winch. The Bear harbor uses a more elaborate gear system to power the winch.

The Falk displayed her curious charms when she headed north in May 1986 for Steam Expo in Vancouver. In Vancouver the oldest operating loco on Northern California's coast found fellowship with a Tom Thumb replica and a Scottish-built 0-4-4T. When the Falk joined the 17 engines for Expo's Grand parade of Steam she had the stage all to herself.

The Bear Harbor displays the flywheels of the Gypsy

The Bear Harbor displays the flywheels, bull gear
and winch that are her "stock-in-trade".

The two Gypsies reflect nearly two centuries of history that is tightly woven with the development of the California Redwood industry. The Bear Harbor's original owners, five lumbermen, had purchased 12,000 acres of coastal redwoods in a remote area about 200 miles north of San Francisco. Their property centred around a small rock cove called Bear Harbor. In 1892, Marchutz & Cantrell delivered No. 1 to the Bear harbor Lumber Company by ship to the company wharf. At first, the engine logged on a 2-mile long track. In 1895 the line was lengthened to 10 miles. Several years later a new Baldwin engine was purchased, and the Gypsy was parked in the engine house. Several attempts to restore and operate the loco over the years failed and its building eventually rotted and collapsed.

In 1958 the dilapidated old girl was moved with the intention of steaming her up but the new owners failed to restore the boiler and the state inspector would not issue them an operating certificate. Bear Harbor was then donated to the Fort Humboldt state park. In 1977 complete restoration of the Bear Harbor was undertaken by the organization now known as the Timber Heritage Association (THA).

The Gypsy after her restoration
The Gypsy after her restoration.

After their successful restoration of Bear harbor the THA decided to rebuild the other Gypsy, No.1. the Falk. The 100 year old machine had been purchased in San Francisco in 1884 and delivered by schooner to Humboldt bay where it began a rough and tumble career in the redwood forest. Noah Falk, a local timberman, had purchased his No. 1 to use on his short logging railroad he had built in Arcata to service his Dolly Varden Mill. Two years later, the Falk, was barged down the bay and set on a new track which led to another of Falk's enterprises – the Elk River Mill and Lumber Company (ERM&L). The Falk operated there for 40 years, first as a log hauler on a three mile logging railroad and then, following the purchase of a second locomotive, as a mill-yard switch engine. The Falk also served the small town of Falk, which had sprung up around the successful lumber venture.

Ten years after the ERM&L retired her the company donated her to the city of Eureka which put her on display in the Fort Humboldt park. In a last hurrah the Falk was steamed up and ran on Eureka's streetcar tracks in the 1937 July 4th parade.


A very short movie of the Bear Harbor can be seen on left.

Western Railroader - #663

The Western Railroader No. 663 published in January/February 2005 is centered on the San Francisco company, The Globe Iron Works Incorporated. The first six pages of this edition of the Western Railroader (reproduced- a pdf version can be downloaded) are about the locos Globe produced which had winches similar to the Bear Harbor and Falk. Click here or on the cover of No 663 (right) to see the full text - a pdf version can be downloaded adobe pdf here. The picture on the front page is by Aurelius Carpenter the father of the famous Pomo Indian painter, Grace Hudson. The Sun House mentioned is part of the Grace Hudson Museum.

Western Railroader - Bear Harbor and Eel River




The Bear Harbor & Eel River Railroad, which was where the Bear Harbor 0-4-0 worked, was the subject of a Western Railroader. Click here or on the cover photo left to see this edition of the Western Railroader . To download a pdf version, click adobe pdf here.

0-4-0 Dinkey with a gypsy winch which ran on the railroad at De Haven

Based on our research there were relatively few 0-4-0’s which had a gypsy winch on the front used to load logs in the woods and none on the Mendocino Coast. Our research was wrong - Thad M. Van Beuren’s book, “Belonging to Places” has a picture of an 0-4-0 with a gypsy winch which worked on the railroad at De Haven.



0-4-0 Dinkey with a gypsy winch which ran on the railroad at De Haven

Fort Bragg R.R. Co No.1 – "The Sequoia" with gypsy winch

The first locomotive owned by the Fort Bragg Railroad No.1, The Sequoia” also had a gypsy winch - see picture Right.

All of the other locos with attached winches that we know of are 0-4-0s. This one is a 2-4-2.


Fort Bragg R.R. Co No.1 – “The Sequoia” with gypsy winch

Model of the Bear Harbor Loco

Two of our club members jointly own a model of the Bear Harbor. Right is a gallery of pictures of our model. Click the photo to see all the pictures




Click the photo right
to see all the pictures.

Straight 0-4-0 locomotive model

The Gypsy and the Falk are both based on an 0-4-0. Club members own two "straight" 0-4-0's and a gallery of photos of one of them is shown left.

Click the photo left to see all the pictures.

Model of the Bear Harbor Loco Model of the Bear Harbor Loco Model of the Bear Harbor Loco Model of the Bear Harbor Loco Model of the Bear Harbor Loco Model of the Bear Harbor Loco Model of the Bear Harbor Loco Model "Straight" O-4-0 Model "Straight" O-4-0 Model "Straight" O-4-0 Model "Straight" O-4-0 Model "Straight" O-4-0 Model "Straight" O-4-0 Model "Straight" O-4-0