Sect.-Treas., Pioneer Engineer Club of Indiana, P.O. Box #44, Pargon, IN 46166
If you want to take a step back into the past, then you should have been out to the Conservation Grounds the weekend of August 3rd, 4th, and 5th, 1984. It was a busy one around Rushville! The steam engine show of the Pioneer Engineers Club of Indiana, (which was started back in 1948 by Lawrence Porter, Tony Moorman, Ray Jones, and a few others), held at the Conservation Grounds, east of town, was bustling with people, engines, tractors, flea markets, and all sorts of exhibits from days gone by.
We had as many people visit us on Thursday as on Friday, but the show actually started on Friday, with the Flag Raising Ceremony by two directors, and with the engines already fired up and ready to get on the sawmill, Baker Fans, shingle mill, rock crusher, etc. There was some rain-- those who were there felt it was just a dust settler and things were not stopped for long. Our figures show there were approximately 11,000 people attending the show.
Our feature engine was Lawrence Porter's Robinson engine and he has a complete Robinson outfit with which he does the wheat threshing all three days with crowds of people standing around watching and reminiscing.
Our feature tractor was Henry Schrank's 'Happy Farmer', a rare tractor, and we were pleased to have this special tractor featured this year.
There were displays of old steam equipment of all sorts, model steam engines; large steam engines; tractors from days long ago; sawmill powered by steam, sawing logs of all sizes; blacksmith shop; cornmeal grinding; broom making; etc. There was a parade of all moving equipment each day which lasted two hours or longer. We had a total of 32 steam engines, 201 tractors, 75 or more gas engines and a number of other exhibits.
Friday evening at 4:00, there was a tractor pull that was thoroughly enjoyed by all. This consisted of the tractors, 1939 and older, which were exhibited on the grounds. There were no prizes--it is all done just for fun.
A Fiddler's contest on Saturday night which was announced on the WRCR Radio Station in Rushville, and sponsored by one of our directors, Russell Coon, was a delight to all and special fiddling' music afterwards was enjoyed.
There was a demonstration of silk flower arranging on Friday afternoon, and a flea market that just wouldn't quit, for the ladies.
Two church services were the Saturday night Catholic service and a Sunday morning Protestant service.
A prize was given to the oldest person attending on Saturday and the winner was the young age of 91. A prize also went to the person traveling the farthest which was a lady from Trinidad. We had people here from New York, Florida, California, and all the states close by. Some came in motor homes, trailers, tents, came in their cars and stayed in motels in town, or just came in for the day.
The era of steam power in the fields has gone, leaving behind a special legacy of romance and a large and growing group of people who still thrill to the hiss of a steam engine. Some love it because they worked with these engines and remember it first-hand, others love it simply because it's old fashioned. For others, there is just a special kind of majesty to a big steam engine under full power and smoke boiling from the smokestack. It's a connection with the past that we can enjoy today, it's a history lesson for the children, and it's worth seeing and nice to have around Rushville. Next year, the first weekend of August, it will all start over again, and the crowds will come from all around and live a few hours in the past.