We thank Dick Plum, news editor for permission to reprint the following story and pictures from the Harlan Tribune. Howard G. Mickelson of Route 1, Kirkman, Iowa 51447 sent us the story and got permission to use it.
'The sound and the smell! That's the fascinating thing!' said Howard Mickelson of Kirkman as his old steam engine whispered away in between toots of it's whistle last Sunday afternoon.
In spite of the gray, misty weather, family and friends flocked to the Mickelson farm southwest of Irwin to see the 50 horse-power Case engine perform. It was made in 1915 at Racine, Wise, and was intended to be moved around by 4-6 horses.
Purchased by Mickelson in 1971 in Montana, it seemed perfectly at home in his Iowa house-yard. George Steenhusen took an implement truck out west to bring it home for his friend. The past three and a half years have been spent in acquiring parts and getting ready for the day when it would be 'Steamed up' and make Howard's dream come true. Some repairs were made in the Mickelson shop, others purchased and-or made at foundries in Pennsylvania, Ohio and all over Iowa.
A trial run last Wednesday was a complete success when he opened up the throttle, let the steam rush into the engine and it came back to life after 40 years of absolute silence. As the smell of hot oil and steam blended with the rather harsh, but strangely musical notes of the old Thompson Bros, threshing machine whistle which had been installed, Howard's face was wreathed in smiles. Later, he said that everyone who heard it had nostalgic smiles on their faces, too!
Carl Mickelson, Howard's father, had a 65 hp. Case steam engine when he used to run a threshing rig but he solg it for scrap iron while Howard was in service much to Howard's dismay. Always fascinated with the old engine, Howard still has a small model he made himself as a toy when he was 10 years old.
People from Griswold, Avoca, Council Bluffs, Crescent, Boone, Harlan, Irwin, Jacksonville, Marne, Brayton Iowa and Norfolk and Bancroft, Nebraska were on hand Sunday to see the colorful machine work. Green flywheels, brass fittings on black parts and a scarlet chassis make the rather clumsy outfit very attractive and when the white steam billows out into the wind, it 'gets to you'.
Mrs. Mickelson commented that Howard spent a lot of time during the winter polishing the brass. 'Well, it's the only steam engine in Shelby County', he retorted.