75 HP Case Steam Engine at Michigan Show Had 12-Year-Old at Controls

Steam People: Love of steam engines (like this Case) crosses family’s generational lines

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A 75 HP Case steam engine with 12-year-old Danielle Somerville at the controls: This photo taken at a Michigan steam engine show proves that older hobbyists aren’t the only people who appreciate steam engines.

Getting younger folks interested in steam engines is a perennial subject in the old iron community. In an age when attentions are pulled in more directions than we can turn, the glory of machines like this Case steam engine can lose out to more “glamorous” attractions.

That doesn’t seem to be the case with the Somerville family of Mason, Mich., however. At the 47th annual reunion of the Michigan Steam Engine and Threshers Club (July 29-31, 2005), steam photographer Mark Corson captured Danielle in her element and in full control of her dad Scott’s 75 HP Case steam engine. (Another of Corson’s steam engine photos was featured on the cover of our March/April 2006 issue.)

As the third generation of Somervilles comes of age, like their parents and grandparents before them, they share the love for steam engines, and look forward to each and every opportunity to get behind the family engines.

Danielle’s mother, Roberta, tell us that Danielle has been on steam engines since the girl was just 6 weeks old.

Danielle is the oldest of the new generation of Somerville steamers, followed by cousin Jake, 11, brother Dale, 10, and cousin Emily, 9.

Roberta says Danielle’s love of this family hobby has made her a natural at the controls of the Case engine. She notes that Danielle’s become a pro at running the throttle. “If you open the throttle just right, the front end will pick up,” a finesse Roberta says Danielle’s mastered.