Charley's Engines

Content Tools

804 Gillette Ave. Gillette, Wyoming 82716

These pictures are of my father-in-law, Charles (Charley) W. Morse of Carpenter, Wyoming and his two steam engines.

Charley and his father and brothers homesteaded in the Carpenter area and in 1910 they purchased a 1904 Case 25-75 steam traction engine #13489. This engine was used both as a plowing and threshing engine for many years. Much of the virgin sod in southeastern Laramie County was plowed with this engine and a disk plow.

In 1913 they purchased a 36 x 58 Case separator with re-cleaner and an extension feeder. This was combined with the 25-75 Case to do custom threshing. This separator is still owned by Charley and is in running condition. Charley was one of the last in the region to combine wheat as he has always liked to feed the straw to his cattle. For many years he used a header with a long extension elevator and a large low wagon of his invention. Stacks were built right in the wagon, then the rear was opened up and the wagon pulled out from under the stack. He continued to use this outfit even after the combine was in use as it only provided feed for the cattle, but it enabled him to start cutting the wheat earlier and get it out of the reach of the frequent hail storms that rake SE Wyoming in midsummer. The stacks kept well in the high dry atmosphere of the Wyoming plains and enabled two men to cut and stack the grain, one to drive the tractor pulling the header and large barge and one to build the stack in the wagon.

The old 25-75 Case went the way of many during WW II to the junk dealer as scrap iron. Charley hated to sec it go, and always dreamed of again owning a steamer. In 1961 the Platte Valley Equipment Co., of North Platte. Nebr. held an auction of construction equipment at Cheyenne, Wyo. Included in their offering was a 20-60 Minneapolis steamer #7559. Charley was the successful bidder on the engine and proudly had it hauled 40 miles to his farm home near Carpenter. He spent many hours reconditioning the engine and made a cold water pressure test of the boiler before firing it up for the first time.

In the fall of 1962 he announced that he would have the Minneapolis 'fired' and threshing at his farm on a Saturday in October. Over 200 people from SE Wyoming, western Nebraska and NE Colorado arrived to 'help' pitch bundles and operate the old outfit.

Charley has attended many steam shows in the western part of the United States. He has removed the lugs from the drive wheels of the Minneapolis in order to be able to enter it in parades, where it always creates much interest. Charley is still active with his son Donald in operating a 2,000 acre wheat and cattle farm. He admits that the new diesels are easier to operate and keep supplied with fuel, but nothing will ever be as smooth on the belt as the steam engine; and diesel exhaust certainly does not smell as nice as steam cylinder oil.