Funter Bay History: Steam Donkey Part II

March 3, 2015

I previously mentioned a Vulcan Iron Works steam donkey at Funter Bay in one of my earlier posts on steam power and internal combustion. Recently I acquired a photo which shows a very similar device at Funter, perhaps the same one. This photo is likely from the summer of 1919.


The photo was taken at the corner of the main Thlinket Packing Co warehouse, seen below:


The steam donkey seen in 1919 and the one in my modern photos look nearly identical to me. The layout of pipes, the piston parts, and the boiler door all appear to match. The donkey in 1919 is mounted on large logs. My modern-day photos do not show any logs under the engine, but loose spikes are visible (the logs likely rotted away or were removed). John Taubeneck provided some details on the Vulcan Iron Works in a comment on my earlier post, noting that there are only a few of these donkeys remaining. He believes the unit pictured above is slightly smaller than the one in the woods, but it is hard to tell.

Neither photo shows the conical top or smokestack seen on other Vulcan donkeys, in the 1919 image they may have been removed for shipping, and by the time of my photos the stack seems to have rusted off and fallen to the ground (a few decades ago it was still mostly upright and covered with a washtub).


The remaining donkey is across the bay at the base of the mountain where it powered an aerial mine tram. If these are the same unit, it may have originally been owned by the cannery and later sold to the mine. As the cannery used mainly low-horsepower gas engines on-site, a steam engine would likely have been used somewhere off the property. It could have served as a pile driver engine, or been used for logging in Kelp Bay or elsewhere.

The men posing on the donkey in the 1919 photo seem to have been a group of Seattle high school students. They will probably be discussed in an upcoming post.

Funter Bay History: Some Assorted Machinery

October 22, 2014

I came across some more photos of derelict machinery at Funter Bay. These devices are in the vicinity of the cannery, in most cases their original purpose is unknown.

First, what appears to be a small vertical bottle steam engine with one cylinder:


Unfortunately it is hard to tell the size, but I would estimate it is about 3-4ft tall (with the base buried in the ground). Small steam engines like this had a variety of uses, including small steam launches, and portable power for winches, machine tools, sawmills, etc.

Next is another view of a device found on one of the scows in Scow Bay. It appears to be a small engine or compressor. From what I can tell of the lettering, it was made by Gardner in Quincy, IL and is marked “patent-pending”. The model number at the bottom looks something like 2XF80 or LXB80. This was probably manufactured prior to 1927, when the company became Gardner-Denver. Any machinery buffs reading this are encouraged to enlighten/correct me!


Also found at the cannery is a neatly stacked cache of light railroad track. This may have been for a marine railway, a freight tramway on one of the wharves, or some other use in the cannery.


At least one historic photo shows small cart frames riding on tracks at the Funter Bay cannery. However, the tracks look more like pipes or boards than standard rails. The wheels are double-flanged, suggesting this was one track with no switches or branches.

track closeup

This may have been for loading cases of cans into retorts for cooking, as seen in this photo of another cannery. I have not seen any other photos of rails inside or outside the cannery buildings, although some other canneries had tracks around the property for moving freight and fish.

This hemispherical planter is likely the pressure door from one of the cannery retorts:

And this small tractor is a mystery to me, as I don’t remember where in the bay I found it! I believe it was somewhere in the woods near the cannery: