Highland Historical Society Homestead Power Show

Unlike at other steam engine beauty contests, those that enter the Highland Historical Society Homestead Power Show demonstrate their prowess at plowing, threshing, and sawing wood.

Highland Historical Society Homestead Power Show - restored Keck-Gonnerman

Shane Reinneck of Freeburg, Illinois operates Grandpa Gordon Kemper's Keck-Gonnerman 19 HP single side mount engine, SN# 1843, at the Highland Historical Society Homestead Power Show. The engine is running a sawmill.

Photo: Farm Collector Magazine Staff

Content Tools

Many of us have driven hundred of miles to a steam show. We have seen several different steam engines at the show, but were disappointed that most of the engine were 'smokers.' 'Smokers' are engines that are run for the parade and nothing else.

The Highland Historical Society Homestead Power Show, which is located 30 miles east of St Louis, Missouri, has a 'no smokers' policy. This show keeps steam engines busy on the sawmill, threshing, rock crushing, and plowing. Visiting engineers come from Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, and even Oklahoma.

The show has a good variety of steam engines and is adding steam engines each year. You may wonder how a smaller show like Highland can add engines each year.

The secret is Joe Graziana. Joe, who helped found the Highland show, is very active in the steam hobby. He is an instructor for the Pawnee Steam School, and completely rebuilds many steam governors each year.

Joe encourages anyone wishing to buy a steam engine. He will go with them to look over an engine and ultrasound the boiler. After the engine is purchased, Joe helps with advice and technical support. This support can be anything from rebuilding a governor or crosshead pump to pouring new babbitt bearings.

A few years ago, Joe Kehrer of New Memphis, Illinois, went to Joe Graziana and asked for assistance in choosing a good first steam engine. Joe Kehrer now has a Keck-Gonnerman and a Gaar-Scott engine. Both engines are mechanically and cosmetically restored. These engines are a wonderful addition to the Highland show.

Joe Graziana can sometimes be persuaded to operate engines other than Keck-Gonnerman or Harrison 'Jumbo.' Joe is wearing a 'hillbilly' hat, but we know his Italian temperament would prevent him from being a laid-back easygoing 'hillbilly.'

Most of us are familiar with the decal used on Case engines. This is a Keck-Gonnerman decal which pictures a prosperous thresherman's home which is actually the Mt. Vernon home of George Washington. Our good friend Tommy Lee of Calhoun, Kentucky, hopes to win the lottery and build a 'correctional facility' for all Keck-Gonnerman steam engines.

The sawmill at Highland keeps a skid full of logs and each steam engine has a turn on the mill.

The Highland Historical Society/Homestead Power Show will be held on September 14-16, 2001. The show is located 2 1/2 miles south of Highland, Illinois, on State Road 160.

Come and enjoy a good steam show. FC