DIG THAT ENGINE!

Ben Fisher
November/December 1969
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Bowesmont, North Dakota 58217

I'm sending you a picture of an old Canton steam engine made by C. A. & Co. of Canton, Ohio Engine No. 2193 which blew up approximately) of a century ago. It was buried in a wheat field right where it blew up, about five miles west of Pembina, North Dakota and about two miles from the Canadian border.

One day they were getting ready to thresh and were getting up steam and someone noticed the steam pressure was getting rather high. So, they told a man to start the engine so it would use steam to release the pressure. As the engine was on dead center, just as the man was ready to turn it over, it exploded; no doubt killing that man for one man was killed and the owner of the rig was standing between the water tank and the engine and it sent him flying through the air landing fifty feet from where the engine stood. He was not hurt too much. It also sent a five gallon oil can right in the mouth of the separator. For some unknown reason, the remains of the engine was buried right in the wheat field where it blew up. Probably it was the easiest way to dispose of the engine at that time.

Now, about a year and a half ago, I heard about this engine and where it was buried. So, I went out to see the man on whose land it was to get permission to get it out. Somehow, some of the boiler part wasn't buried too deep and the farmer would get his plow hooked into it. He was glad to get it out of the wheat field, as it was a nuisance to him. By making some rods and driving them into the ground, we soon located the engine for the farmer knew approximately where it was buried. By doing a little digging, we soon located the engine proper and later on my neighbor, Melvin Juhl, with a bulldozer, uncovered some more.

We got most of the boiler out, but it was so blown to pieces, it was hard to tell how the boiler was built. Some of it must have been square, from the looks of the pieces we dug out. It was a wood burner and I think the firebox was made square. It was horse drawn and the engine only ran one way.

The owner of the engine was a man by the name of Morris, don't know his first name but he has a son by the name of Walter Morris that still lives at Pembina, N. D. and still farms some of his father's land. He was 72 years old when I dug out the engine and the engine was buried for 74 years so he never saw his father's/ engine until I dug it up. Boy, was he glad to see the old engine!

Now, there were parts broken and missing. The flywheel was broken and I practically had to make a complete new crank shaft. Rebored the cylinder on my 13' lathe and got a true and accurate job which saved me quite a bit. Made new piston and rings using stainless steel for piston rod. So, I now have the engine proper in running order and steam it up occasionally to see it run by taking steam from another boiler. It runs smooth and nice.

I was able to pick up a good boiler 40' diameter and a neighbor gave me some good wheels quite similar to the original old ones. I hope this summer I'll be able to mount the engine on the boiler and get it to look like the original old engine.

A relative of Walter Morris, a real old farm lady happened to have a picture of this old engine and I was able to get some reprints made. It's not very clear but was the only picture I could find of this engine no doubt, the only one in existence. Also, am sending a picture of Melvin Juhl on the bulldozer.


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