N. Missouri Steam & Gas Assoc. 312 N. Davis Street Hamilton, Missouri 64644
The Fairbanks-Morse Y 25 HP oil engine was once used to turn ammonia compressors which froze ice at the old ice plant in Hamilton, Missouri. This engine, one of five, ran 24 hours a day and was stopped only to be lubed. Many local citizens remember hearing the constant hum of these engines throughout the night. It is believed that the engine ran for at least 60 years. The last time it was used to cool ice storage was in 1956. As late as 1955, there was a regular city route in Hamilton.
The Hamilton ice plant was started in 1929 by F. J. Gaume. Prior to use as an ice plant, the building had been a flour mill in the late 1800's. The Frank Clark Flour was widely known for three decades until larger milling companies forced the closing of the small mill. After the closing of the flour mill, Frank Clark started the city's first electric light plant.
There were five electric wells on the property, which were adjacent to the railroad tracks. The wells furnished water for passing trains for many years, as well as for the plants which were housed on this property.
The ice plant stood idle for several years and was finally demolished by Lloyd Connor, who purchased the property from the Gaume family. In 1981 Wendell Moss purchased the Fairbanks-Morse engine from Lester Gaume, son of Frank Gaume. Following Wendell's death in 1987, his long time friend, Bob Branson of Hamilton, continued with attempts at starting the engine. Finally, in August 1992, the engine proudly puffed smoke rings at the North Missouri Steam and Gas Engine Show in Hamilton, Missouri.
The engine remains in the Moss family Wendell's son, Shawn, is pictured with it. Shawn's grandfather, Russell Moss, was one of the founders of the North Missouri Steam and Gas Engine Association, along with several of Shawn's uncles and cousins. The Moss family continues their proud tradition. The engine has been loaned to the North Missouri Steam and Gas Engine Association's annual show for as long as the association remains in existence.
Information for this article was furnished by Elaine Moss Curtis, part owner of the engine, and the Hamilton Advocate-Hamiltonian. Photo was taken by Dennis Cox of the Hamilton Advocate.