A Tour of Steam Shows

Nichols & Shepard engine

8 hp. Nichols & Shepard, 1889 owned by Frank Ewing, Rapid City, South Dakota. Exhibited at steam show at Madison, South Dakota. It has a Marsh reverse gear and new boiler as of 1969. Courtesy of Mrs. LeRoy W. Blaker, Alvordton, Ohio 43501.

Mrs. LeRoy W. Blaker

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Alvordton, Ohio 43501

For well over twenty years it was my duty and pleasure to report on the National Threshers Reunions, held first on my husband's farm near Alvordton, Ohio, then at the Williams County Fairgrounds in Montpelier, Ohio, and now for the last six years at the Fulton County Fairgrounds near Wauseon, Ohio. But last year, when of all years I should have reported on the Silver Anniversary of this pioneer organization, I was unable to do so. I should have sent in our appreciation for the cooperation we have enjoyed down through the years, and for the wonderful farewell reception given us on our retiring as president and secretary-treasurer. I also should have asked for the same cooperation for the incoming officers, Earnest and IIva Hoffer of Toledo.

The reason I did not carry out these duties was because of the two major operations LeRoy underwent immediately following the 1969 NTA Reunion in July and again in September. Then in October I took my turn in the hospital for three weeks, following a back injury. I regret that I am also unable to write on the 1970 NTA Reunion because I was not there; I was on a tour in the East with my daughter, a college tour from Central State University in Michigan, which unfortunately was scheduled for the same time. However, this year's Reunion, which I am told was the 'biggest and Best yet,' will be reported on by the NTA president, Earnest Hoffer.

Fully recovered by the time for the 1970 Reunions, LeRoy and I tried to make up for last year. With the great number of such events now occurring, it is impossible to make them all. But we did go down to Elwood, Indiana, where they had a fine display of engines and did a lot of threshing. Before that we went to Greenville, Ohio, where they have an improved show grounds at the Drake County Fairgrounds. Many good engines are exhibited there. Then came the fine show at Hastings, Michigan, where they have one of the best sawmills at any show, operated by two engines at a time.

The show closest to our home is that held on Jim Whitbey's farm near Fort Wayne, Indiana. Undoubtedly Harold Gay will send in his usual complete report of this great show. Threshing and plowing are two of the major features of this WOWO sponsored show.

On August 28 we started our 'Grand Tour' and headed northwest. First we stopped at Janesville, Wisconsin, where they were preparing for their show the following week. They have put up two fine buildings since we were last there. By driving over 600 miles Friday, we were able to get to Madison, South Dakota, in time for their show at Prairie Village. Here I especially enjoyed the church service Sunday morning in the restored old Lutheran Church. From there we went on to Minden, Nebraska, LeRoy's birthplace, site now of the world-renowned Pioneer Village. With not too lengthy driving we were able to spend some time at Antique Acres, north of Cedar Falls, Iowa, where their fine show was to open the next day. Here too we saw much improvement since we last visited it.

A new paragraph must be used to try to describe the fabulous Midwest Old Threshers show at Mount Pleasant, Iowa. We spent two days there and then did not see everything. Iowa's mud was in evidence, the only drawback to the show. Muddy grounds cut short our visit to the Central States show at Pontiac, Illinois; and the same reason caused us to cancel our planned visit to the steam show at LaPorte, Indiana. But it was a good tour, nevertheless, which we thoroughly enjoyed and met many old and new friends. (I enclose some photos.)