A LOOK AT IOWA STEAM ENGINE SHOWS


September/October 1964
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Here is a picture of a brass band job. Must have been a super deluxe model with the brass bands, light, heat and music.
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In August 1963 we spent three enjoyable days at the Neil Miller show West of Alden, Iowa, and were impressed by the old fashioned hospitality extended to their many friends.

The help enjoys the meals as they were in days of yore. The wash tub and basins, the towels hanging around on the windmill tower and the first and second table. The usual ambition was to make the first table but the second table was in order for those who never are on time for dinner at home!

There is plenty of shade and one does not tire from walking long distances, as most show features are close in. The ladies excel in pro viding good food at the canteen. We always find at the same spot, Orin G. Seavers who has books and magazines that we like to read. He also likes to keep the Merry Go Round engine rolling, pull on the whistle cord and give out with the Army calls on his bugle! The show would not be complete without Mr. Seavers, so thanks, Orin!

Mr. Neil Miller is a busy man but will take time out for a good joke or to talk about the engines. He loves to work hard to put on a good show which is growing up to a very fine show. An exhibition building is erected to house many fine showpieces. Fifteen steam engines of several makes were under steam and additional engines are being restored so that a larger and better show will be in store for us in 1964.

There were many tractors and gas engines. Neil owns the machinery for this show which lists it among the large private owned shows.

Time does bring a good show to an end so after the boards were placed on the engine stacks, the engineers had spun their last yarn and autos came to life for the trip home, we regretfully bid farewell to the Miller 'Engine Farm' to travel to another good show.

Now we were ready for the Threshermen's Field Days sponsored by the Black Hawk Steam Engine Club, five miles north of Cedar Falls, Iowa. Here we found many friends, warm hospitality and a fine bunch of fellows. There was plenty of room for the show and for car parking. The soil is somewhat sandy which permits quick resumption of show features after a shower. Food was excellent, served by a large staff of willing and accommodating workers.

One impressive feature was the large engines of sixteen horse power and over. This can be rightfully called the Iowa Land of the Giants. There was the Reeves Cross Compound of 40-150 H.P. weighing 25 ton empty and 32 ton with coal and water. Also 100 H.P. Phoenix Log Hauler which is almost exclusive to this show. A 100 H.P. Case Plow engine is available. Also some very rare Engines were under steam here. In operation were many old tractors of various, makes and over fifty gas engines.

Parade of these fine show pieces was held each afternoon. A Tractor pulling contest was held that was great attraction for all and gave the boys a chance to demonstrate what their favorite tractor could do.

We are informed that this show will be on larger location, just adjoining the location of 1963, so indications point to a very good show in 1964. As Labor Day drew to a close, engineers were running their engines around to get the utmost out of being with their 'Iron Horse' and as the engines were slowly giving up their spirit and energy the kids came in to their own by tooting those whistles!

Time was short so we traveled part of the night to attend the Midwest Old Threshers and Settlers Reunion at Mt. Pleasant. This show is well known to many of us and one is amazed at the great magnitude of this show, but unlike the less extensive shows, one cannot be there for just one day to see all. For several years we stayed for the full time and in 1963, were detained on the grounds and astonished by features we had missed. Yes, Iowa has good shows to bring back memories of the past. The shows are well announced in advance. Do plan to attend, it is one of the best ways to drop the cares of this modern life so as to enjoy a real vacation.


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