Traction engines

This picture shows how the traction engines were first steered by a horse walking in front. You can see where the horse sharves are guided by a fifth wheel and tiller handle. This was patented in 1861.

Mr. Ralph Bates

Content Tools

Highland Park College




June 1, 1915 

Mr. Charlie Fay,

Greeley, Colorado.

Dear Mr. Fay:-

Your card of May 28th has been received.

We will send you in another envelope a copy of the catalogue of our College of Engineering and you will find our course in Traction Engineering outlined on page 82. This course includes both gas and steam traction engineering work. We have several gas tractors and several steam tractors which we use for the purpose of giving instruction to students. Besides we have several well worn engines upon which the students make repairs. This course is just as thorough as such a course can be made and is intensely practical. We put students right into the machine shops and make just as good mechanics out of them as possible. We teach them how to put in stay bolts, how to grind and set valves, how to do babbitting, how to turn, set and repair flues also how to handle and repair a gas engine. We believe this is the most complete Traction Engine Course offered by any such school in the country. This course may be completed in one quarter of twelve weeks and the tuition is $35.00.

The living expenses are as follows: Table board is $2.25 and $3.25 a week, room rent is 60 and 90cent a week according to appointments and location, light is 35cent a week, heat is 25cent a week, library and gymnasium fee is $3.00 a quarter. In addition to this there is an engineering deposit of $5.00; $2.00 of which are refunded at the end of the quarter if no tools are broken, lost or damaged. There is also a general deposit of $2.00 to cover possible damage to room and furniture. In case no damage is reported the entire $2.00 are refunded at the end of the quarter. These cover all of the expenses in the school for a quarter of twelve weeks and they are all due and payable strictly in advance for that length of time when the student enters. You will find these expenses all scheduled on pages 29 to 33 inclusive.

We receive students into this department practically any time they are ready to come, although it is usually thought better for students to enter at the beginning of a term or quarter if it is possible for them to do so. You will find the College calendar on page 4 of your catalogue. After looking through the catalogue we shall be pleased to hear from you and to answer any special questions you may have to ask.

Yours respectfully,

Geo. P. Magill

Courtesy of Mr. John  Menchhofer, 3520 W. 12th St., Indianapolis, Indiana

Following is a letter from Commander Gale telling about his visit to the Pioneer Engineers Club of Indiana, Inc.

'I visited your club's reunion last Saturday and Sunday at the invitation of Art Lucas. I enjoyed the two day's events greatly. Each piece of machinery there was fabulous and the great pride with which each owner displayed their equipment was outstanding. However, I want to especially compliment your club on their programming of the church services and the raising of the flag by the Girl Scouts, and the dignity with which they were both conducted. As a Legionnaire, I am especially watchful of these two events in all programs and I want to say that yours was most dignified and respectful.

I would like to have you convey my compliments to your club, the minister, and especially to the Girl Scout troop and their color guard for a job well done. It showed all who were there that God and state can live and work together as one in our society.

Thank you for a most enjoyable week-end and I hope to attend next year.

Gene Gale

Commander Post 331

Brownsburg, Indiana

Courtesy of Mr. Ralph Bates, Hamilton Road, Lincoln, England

I can well remember some amusing events which occurred in our village of Bassingham near Lincoln over 60 years ago. There was a farmer named Sam Martin, and in those days a great deal of the harvest was cut in the fields by hand, using a scythe. Every summer hundreds of Irishmen used to come over to England to help with the harvest. I have seen several of these men, each with a scythe in his hands, in a large field, making sweeping strokes with this queer looking tool in a wonderful and easy rhythm like manner. It would break peoples hearts as well as their backs to attempt such 'labour' today. These Irishmen would mow all day as long as there were a few pints of beer available.

After cutting the corn down, it had to be turned over with a fork for several days to let the sun and air dry the corn and straw. Then bundles were made and tied up. This tying business was really a cleaver piece of work. A number of strands of straws were twisted up to form a band or straw-like cable, which was used for the tying. I cannot describe accurately how it was done or how the 'cable' was knotted or fastened round the bundle, which was called a sheaf.

These sheaves were then stood up and stacked together in fours or sixes in the field, where they were again left a few days for final drying. Later on horses and wagons would go into the fields and collect up the sheaves and transport them to the farmyard. Here they were piled up to make a stack and left there for several months. Sam Martin did so, and would start threshing in the wintertime.

This picture shows an upright 2 H. P. pump steam engine with 3 H. P. porcupine boiler, 144 - 12 inch ' flues, I assembled at my parents home in 1909, when a high school student at Palouse, Washington. The boiler was made in the Half hide Machine Shop and carried up to 165 lb. steam. The engine was used around the place to saw wood, pump water, spray trees, run shop machines, heat water and run the family washing machine etc The picture was taken in 1912. It was first steamed up in the early spring of 1910. I am wearing the derby hat.

As a boy I used to go into his stack yard with other boys at threshing time. I loved to see the steam engine working and then at lunch time it would blow its whistle to notify the men that the machine was about to stop. The aroma all around was quite appetizing and had the scent of the harvest field again.

There was sport, too, for we boys. Due to the long period that the stacks had been standing in the farmyard, some mice had made their homes therein. We stood round the stack each with a stick and as a sheaf was picked up to be put into the threshing machine, one or two mice might be revealed. So sticks would come down on the poor mice. I remember one boy catching a mouse alive and took it to school in his pocket. Unfortunately, for the boy, the mouse got out of his pocket in school and there was pandemonium. Girls screaming, boys laughing, and school teacher was furious. Needless to say, that boy was canned.


I have subscribed to and enjoyed your magazine for a number of years now. The lead article of the September-October 63 issue, entitled 'Halloween Holocaust', by Karl C. McManus reminded me of a similar story.

October 30, 1915, fell on a Saturday night. Late that evening a group of young blades (comprised of Tony and Hank Veenschoten, Earl Turner, Bill Kwikkle, Fritz Schroeder, Seista and Sieb Van Diepen, Don Kammalade, my brother Harry and myself) fired up the John Van Ort outfit, which had been parked on what is now the John Reimers' farm. It consisted of a 20 hp Starr engine and an Advance separation. We also borrowed the sleeping shack and five other wagons as well. Harry Starkweather drove, with the rest of us serving as 'look-outs'. Arriving on the main street of Boyden between 1 and 2 a.m., we proceeded to block the prime intersection with our 'train' throwing in some banana crates, from the General Store, as good measure. George Morris and Bill Eddy (who was then Mayor) both saw us come in .... but at a subsequent investigation not an eye-witness could be found. In fact, I believe this is the first public admission of this 'crime'.

Our Halloween prank, the blockade, was left in place until Monday noon, when it was finally moved with some of the guilty parties assisting and loudly denouncing the culprits, whoever they might be. Prior to the equipment being moved, a traveling photographer captured the spectacle and did a landslide business selling it on postcards to the local populace. I am enclosing a copy of these postcards.