Water at Oats Creek. The crew of Cass Shay #5 performs routine service on the running gear of their locomotive after taking water at the Oats Creek Tank. The locomotive is hauling three empty log flats and is preparing to depart UPHILL from this location in reverse. Although many photos exist of Cass Locomotives taking water at this location, this one is more than a bit unusual. For starters, this is a work train versus the usual tourist train. Second, this locomotive is actually facing downhill, which is not the normal mode of operation. In this case, the locomotive had been turned in late 2016 to facilitate maintenance in the Cass Shops over the winter. The primary purpose of this operation was to take the locomotive back to the wye further up the hill and return her to the proper orientation for the upcoming tourist season.
Viewers may look at the watering facilities on the left side of this image and wonder how the Cass Locomotives take on water from a tank that is BELOW the level of the tender tank. The answer is that many geared locomotives, and all of the Cass Shays are equipped with a Steam Siphon. This apparatus uses boiler steam pressure to create a suction, which draws water up through a large hose and into the tender tank. Steam siphons allowed logging locomotives to regularly take water from ponds and streams in remote locations where there was no railroad infrastructure, such as water tanks. In the case of Oats Creek, water from a local stream has been diverted, via white plastic pipes, into the old boiler shell and tender tank seen on the left. These two reservoirs each hold enough water for one locomotive. The purpose of having two reservoirs is to facilitate the servicing of double-headers, which sometimes happen during the peak tourist season.
One other point of interest in this photo is the rather odd whitish color to the railheads in front of the locomotive. What you see there is sand caked on the rails. This water stop is located on an 8% grade, and even a Shay needs to make heavy use of the sanders when starting a heavy train on such a grade.