The Chinook Observer is beginning a series of stories called “Pieces of our Past.”  The series will feature items found in our local museums. The idea is to inform the public of how these items were used and why they are still of interest today. 

In coming editions a wide array of items will be featured from local collections, including those of the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum in Ilwaco, Pacific County Heritage Museum in South Bend, Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment, World Kite Museum in Long Beach, and Appelo Archive Center in Naselle. When they open in the spring, the Nahcotta Interpretive Center and Cranberry Museum on Pioneer Road will also be asked to participate.


NASELLE — The first treasure featured is a railroad speeder car or velocipede car located in the Appelo Archive Center (AAC).  The car was owned by Fred Hendrickson and ran on the rail line between Deep River and Salmon Creek. The three-wheel speeder was powered by a hand pump and could be operated by one or two people.  

Hendrickson, son of Lars Hendrickson and Katherine Escola of Olson’s Logging Camp, later to be called Toonerville, operated a dairy. 

Hendrickson transported four milk cans — numbered “164” so he would get credit for his daily deliveries — to the processor in Grays River a quarter-mile away.  The milk cans each held between 15 and 20 gallons of milk. 

Hendrickson would also loan the velocipede to his neighbors to help them with their needs.  

Fred Hendrickson was Mary Hill Cornell’s uncle and in 2011 she donated the speeder car to AAC. Mary was born in 1929 and lived at Olson’s Logging Camp until 1934 when she moved to Seaside to attend school with her sister Betty. 

“My sister and I spent a great deal of time on the speeder. It was stored in a shed and she and I could get it on the railroad tracks by ourselves. The speeder was in use until the middle to late 1950s when they tore up the tracks and put in a road. I have many fond memories of that speeder,” Cornell said. 

She inherited the speeder in 1965 when her Uncle Fred passed away. “I loved that speeder so I had it taken apart and stored in my garage in Portland. When I moved to Seaside I had it restored by my friend Stanley Rangila (of Deep River) in around 2000,” Cornell explained. “He did a fabulous job.”

The first speeder car was built in 1893 by the Sheffield Velocipede Company and had a primitive gasoline engine. Before the turn of the century the company was purchased by Fairbanks-Morse, the maker of the speeder car Cornell donated to AAC.

In the 1990s, speeders were replaced with pickup trucks or sport utility vehicles using flanged wheels that could be lowered onto the rails. They are called road-rail vehicles or Hyrails. Velocipedes have become popular collectors items.

Also during the time of historic timber harvests, C.A. Appelo’s wife, Agnes, took grocery orders from local logging camps and was also the area’s banker.  The train would dump logs in Deep River and then return to the camps with supplies. Agnes would bring thousands of dollars so the loggers could cash their hard-earned paychecks. 

Although carrying huge sums of money, Agnes was never bothered, in part because of the respect she had from the loggers and in part because she carried a pistol. Son Carlton Appelo, who is the creator of the Archive Center, said, “Mama did carry a pistol, but she told us it wasn’t loaded.”

The speeder car is on the second floor of the Appelo Archive Center located at 1056 SR 4 in Naselle. The center is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or by appointment.

Appelo Archives can be reached at 360-484-7103 or by email at  Appointments can be made to do research on photos, cemetery records, and Finnish, Swedish and Columbia River history. 

Many local newspapers and books about Pacific Northwest history, including logging, fishing, farming, events, and music are available at the museum’s library. There are also a number of exhibits and hundreds of photographs. The staff is happy to help with questions and research. AAC is handicap accessible and Wi-Fi is available. Group meetings can be scheduled in the Heritage Room.

More information on the early logging days of the area can be found in “When Logging Was Logging: 100 Years of Big Timber in Southwest Washington” edited by Bryan Penttila and Karen Bertroch as an Appelo Archives project. See page A4 for more information.

“When Logging Was Logging” is available at AAC in Naselle, Lucy’s Books and the Maritime Museum in Astoria, at Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum in Ilwaco, or online at It will also be available at the Old Time Loggers Reunion on Saturday, Jan. 28, from noon to 4 p.m. at the AAC.

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