Washington Yarders History

Washington Ironworks, based in Seattle Washington, opened it’s doors for business on January 4th, 1882 and was a world leader in the manufacturing of logging equipment and cable systems until the mid 1980s. Poor economic conditions and changes in the logging industry, forced the company to begin selling off its assets. The doors closed for good in 1986.

While a complete archive of Washington Yarders century long journey will never be assembled, all of us at Wheeler share a fondness for the ‘good old days’ of Pacific Northwest logging. We are happy to include the following images and links.

About The Founder

Washington Iron works was founded by John M. Frink (January 21, 1855 – August 31, 1914). Frink, who was born in Pennsylvania, made the move west to Seattle in 1874 where he taught and served as principal at Belltown School. Although trained as a teacher, Fink had a keen mind for business, and took advantage of business opportunities as they came along.

Noticing the rapid industrial growth around the city, John Frink started a foundry business and eventually headed up a number of successful operations in and around Seattle. Along with Washington Iron Works, He established the Seattle Electric Company, was named to the board of directors of the Seattle Savings Bank, and eventually served as a Washington State senator.

In 1906, Frink joined the Seattle Board of Park Commissioners. That same year he donated the property that became known as Frink Park to the City of Seattle. Eventually he became president of the Board of Park Commissioners. The Frink building, located in Pioneer Square in Seattle’s downtown, still stands today assuring John M. Frink’s place in the history and lore of the city.

Balloon Logging Yarder

Washington Ironworks designed and built several machines over the years for the purpose of logging with balloons. It never really ‘took off’, and the idea faded as helicopters became more efficient and available.

Night Logging

Believe it or not, there was a time when somecompanies engaged in night logging. They were trying to harvest as many logs they could, as fast as they could. Yarders would be worked around the clock in three 8 hour shifts. The logs would pile up and be moved later when trucks were available. Sometimes weeks later! Night logging didn’t last long, likely due to the risk and danger.

Washington 108 Grapple Yarder


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