The South Shasta Steam Threshing Bee, the only one in
California, operates every her year in the odd-numbered years on
Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend. In the even-numbered
years, our huge 0 gauge Model Railroad is operated for the public
on Sunday afternoons during April and May.
In spite of the scarcity of gasoline, the 11th show in 1979 had
an attendance equal to the 1977 show nearly 5,000 people. They came
from 16 states and 307 California towns. The show is held on the
farm of Godfrey and Betty Humann near Gerber. The Humanns begin
preparation for the bee in January each month requires more work as
the show date nears. Here is their story as told by Godfrey:
'At 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, the show begins with the
blast-off of several steam whistles. The show proceeds on a strict
schedule, and most events are repeated twice a day.'
The first event you are about to witness. A small 14-40 HP Case
steamer owned by Hank Beebe, or a homemade 2 cylinder steamer of
about 8 HP owned by Melvin Harris, is belted to a small 18 x 28
Case slat stacker thresher owned by Marvin Cairns who rescued and
restored it. The slat stacker, meaning no blower, is unusual and
will require someone to move the straw. I am the separator man and
I climb on to the top of the little machine to keep an eye on
things. The grain is being sacked and requires a sack sewer. The
bundles are pitched by a volunteer.
'At 10 a.m. we move to a much bigger outfit we own. A 28 x
46 Case separator and one of the four steamers that will take turns
threshing the two days is all belted up and ready to go. David
Cripe, my grandson, is engineer on the 20-60 Case. Here again, I am
the separator man and I am right at home as I used to run a Case
stationary in my youth. We thresh bulk into my truck so grandsons
Ricky and Billy level the grain. In about 30 minutes the stack is
gone and the sounds and sights of the steamer with the long crossed
belt over the flywheel will cease. It was these sights and sounds
that inspired me to promote these shows for the public.'
'The next event takes place immediately. I walk over to a
16-30 Rumely Oil Pull that is belted to a 22 x 36 Red River Special
thresher. This machine will sack the grain. Roy Stoner keeps an eye
on the volunteer sack sewers, giving a hand if needed. At times it
is really a show in itself to see some folks try to sew sacks. The
Oil Pull with its peculiar sound keeps the separator right up in
the collar. With this outfit, we thresh only half a stack at a
time. That done, we shut down and go over to the next
'This is a 1904 Auto Fedan horse-powered baler, with horses
going in a circle. We have to use a small Model B O John Deere
tractor driven by David Cripe because one of the horses scheduled
for the run died three days before show time. I pitch in the straw
and put in blocks on schedule. Roy Stoner puts in the wires, ties
them and piles the bales. At the same time this is going on, over
under a big walnut tree, you can hear the exhaust of a 15-30
McCormick Deering tractor, 1928 vintage, milling wheat into flour.
It is operated by Jack Williams, who has been with the Bee since
its beginning. Nearby is a very old Marsailles 2 hole corn sheller
belted to a small upright steam engine which takes its steam from
our 1908 Advance operated by Lance Starkey.
Wulf Reinhold, engineer or fireman on locomotive No. 4, the
passenger hauling foot gauge steam train, oils around while waiting
for the passengers tod. In cab, with his back to camera Wulf, also
engineer or fireman. The locomotive is German-built and is burning
The big parade in progress! Here the camera has focused on a
16-30 Oil Pull of 1916 vintage pulling a wooden 36 x 54 Advance
Rumely separator of 1917 intage. Following is a 1938 Model D John
Deere pulling a 1936 Model 5-A John Deere pull combine. Both owned
by Godfrey Humann. Facing page: A 1908 Advance steamer towing a
1927 Case thresher. Ready for moving as it was done years ago.hese
machines, along with many others, will be in action during the
South Shasta Steam Threshing Bee. All photos courtesy of G. A.
Humann, Rt. 1, Box 455, Gerber, California 96035.
Five steamers are owned by Godfrey Humann and operated during
the South Shasta Steam Threshing Bee. From left to right, a 1912
20-60 HP Case, 1908 20-60 Advance, a 1912 16-48 Russell, a 1912
20-60 Gaar Scott and a 1936 2' gauge Koppel steam locomotive
'The rest of the shady yard is filled with 50 or 60
operating gas engines of all kinds. The single cylinder gas engine
can always be heard doing some interesting job. Oliver Wilson
perates one of the largest engines, a 20 HP, using diesel fuel.
Cliff Hardy has a large one belted to a line shaft and powering
several different things at once.
'Home-built steam engines of all sizes are operating and all
but the very smallest paraded with the big ones. Very unusual is a
scale model of the Best 110 HP steamer built by John Faria and a
scale model of a return flue by the late Sam Enstad and operated by
his son Oclair.'
'Three steamers are being lined up to plow, one behind the
other. In the lead is our 20 HP Gaar Scott double simple pulling
five 14' plows. Paul Humann is engineer and Marvin Cairns is
steering. Second is a 20-70 HP double simple Nichols & Shepard
pulling five 14' plows. Hank Beebe owns this engineBob McMillan
is engineer and Gene Maquire is steering. Third is a 14-40 HP Case
single cylinder pulling three 14' plows. Hank Beebe is owner
and engineer, and steering is Mr. Gust. This is a glorious and
unusual sight people came into the fields by the hundreds with
cameras clicking away.'
'As the clock hands point to 12 noon, all steam whistles are
blown. This is very surprising to many who have never heard so many
steam whistles at once.'
'After a lunch served by the Boy Scouts, MC, Charles
DeFrates, calls for volunteer tractor drivers for the parade. The
steamers head the parade. The parade moves slowly so that the MC
has time to give a short description of each item as it passes.
After all the steam tractors, come the old gas tractors. Next comes
the harvest section, from the hand sickle demonstrated by Gisela
Reinhold, progressing through the scythe, reaper, binder,
stationary thresher, pull combine and modern self-propelled.
Concluding the parade are old cars and trucks.'
'The afternoon program repeats the morning's except for
the slow race of the steamers at 4:30 p.m. This race is so
different that the MC has to take pains to tell the crowd to cheer
for the slowest one and not the fastest! If an engine stalls, it is
immediately out of the race. The single cylinder engines are in one
race and the double cylinder engines in a separate race. It is very
interesting and a nice climax for the day.'
'Running all day, except during noon hour and parade time,
is the 2 foot gauge steam train hauling passengers on a one mile
trip. The ten ton Koppel German locomotive is operated by Wulf
Reinhold and his son.'
'Over under a large tree, Gisela Reinhold is demonstrating
the use of the spinning wheel and loom. She also takes a turn at
pitching bundles during the threshing. In another part of the
spacious grounds, steamers or tractors may be seen belted to a
'Our Country Store is doing a brisk business selling whole
wheat flour, cornmeal, camera film, threshing bee buttons,
brochures, souvenir tablets, and giving information.'
'Almost anywhere nearby will be Betty, my wife, directing
people, answering questions or running the never-ending errands.
She limps a little this yearand no wonder. In 1978 she overcame
three major strokes, had a cancerous kidney taken out and 19 Cobalt
treatments for cancer in her hip.'
'This year's photographer was Chuck Gilbreth. There were
many other faithful helpers and exhibitors, too numerous to mention
by name, but really appreciated.
'Evening entertainment starts about 7:30 p.m. and consists
of re counting past experiences, showing movies and
'In order to avoid any disappointments, all machinery is put
thru its paces in a shakedown run a month ahead. The 1981 show
dates are September 5 and 6. The Humann ranch is located 2 miles
south of Gerber or 12 miles south of Red Bluff. Watch for signs on