What's that you say? A steam-powered sawmill that still operates? Not only that, but it is totally powered by its own sawdust?
Yes Virginia, this is actually true - unlike the story I told you about Santa Claus. I have a photograph that proves it. Here it is. Click it to see a larger version.
The mill is situated in Grandchester, the little town that was on the end of Queensland's first rail line. The steam-powered sawmill even has its own web site and if that statement doesn't leap from the nineteenth century straight into the twenty-first, I don't know my own name.
The sawmill was first opened by Roley Gillam during WWII - then it supplied timber to the nearby Rosewood coal mine and firewood to Queensland Railways. After WWII there was strong demand for cut timber to supply the housing boom. Pictured below in 1945 is the 8 horsepower Robey portable steam engine that first powered the mill.
In 1962 a Marshall engine was purchased and installed, and it still powers the mill today. It already had more than a few hours use before it arrived at Grandchester. The mill's history page indicates that the engine had been in service at Nestlé at Toogoolawah, the Lowood Butter Factory, and also at a sawmill in Gatton before being purchased by the Grandchester Sawmill. Here is a photograph of it at the mill in 1972.
The steam that drives the engine comes from the boiler of a retired railway engine that was built by Walkers of Maryborough in 1966. It can be seen on the LHS of the colour photograph at the top of this post. Its QR number 922 is painted on the headlight. There is also a plate with the name "Old Reliable" attached.
So far that has proven to be true!
Click here for a Google Map.