Letting Off Steam

Richard Backus

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Sixty years ago, Rev. Elmer Ritzman launched The Farm Album, the precursor to Steam Traction. Ritzman, who uniquely combined the qualities of a dyed-in-the-wool steam man with those of the ministry, wasn't just looking back at lost glory days; he was looking forward, because he knew there were many good days still to come.

Along with a small, but celebrated, group of ardent steamers like Arthur S. Young, "Steam Engine" Joe Rynda, Titus Brubaker, LeRoy Blaker and Chris Busch, Ritzman was in the thick of what was then a renaissance of interest in agricultural steam.

In 1946, the timeline to the working days of steam was short. World War II was a fresh wound, and before the war, steam had still been a fact of life on many farms. But after the war, the agricultural landscape was changing, and quickly.

Gas powered tractors were the order of the day, and modern combines did the work of several machines. The old days of the harvest, of steam engines belching smoke into the sky as wheat was fed into the thresher, had drawn to a close.

Ritzman, and people like him, was determined to make sure the old ways and the culture of steam were kept alive

Steam and threshing reunions were popping up literally overnight, and in 1950 The Farm Album, a quarterly, became The Iron-Men Album and started printing six times a year. That schedule has been followed for 56 years.

Now, as we prepare for the 61st year of publication, it's time to re-examine the landscape as we work forward.

Steam traction engines and threshing are as popular as ever at farm shows and reunions, but there's no denying it's getting harder to play with our engines. As the costs of insuring, transporting and maintaining engines continue to climb, the pool of people who can bear the cost of ownership is getting smaller.

We face similar difficulties with Steam Traction. With rising paper costs (almost 30 percent in the last few years) and postage increases, it's become increasingly difficult to deliver Steam Traction six times a year. Beginning with the next issue, we've decided to consolidate and deliver four larger issues every year.

Yes, it means fewer issues of your favorite steam magazine, but we're committed to keeping the past and present of steam alive, and we'll be redoubling our efforts to make sure that each and every issue contains the kind of stories you've come to expect in Steam Traction. And we're looking forward to delivering on that expectation for years to come.

The good days, as Ritzman knew, are still to come.

Richard Backus
Editor
rbackus@ogdenpubs.com

STEAM TRACTION

CONTINUING THE TRADITION OF IRON-MEN ALBUM

U.S.P.S. #012700

Founded in 1946 by Rev. Elmer Ritzman. Published Six Times a Year - Jan., March, May, July, Sept. and Nov.

SUBSCRIPTION RATES 

$38 per year/6 issues,
$59 two years/12 issues, U.S.
First Class or Air Subscription Rates
$48/6 issues, $79/12 issues,
U.S. $50/6 issues, $85/12 issues, Canada
$66.50/6 issues other countries

All subscriptions are in U.S. Funds; Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express Accepted.

PUBLISHER/EDITORIAL DIRECTOR 

Bryan Welch

ASSISTANT PUBLISHER 

William Windsor

CIRCULATION DIRECTOR 

Cherilyn Olmsted

EDITORIAL 

(785) 274-4379
Richard Backus, Editor in Chief
Kay Winford, Assistant Editor
Erin Shipps, Assistant Editor

ADVERTISING 

(785) 274-4378
Andrew Perkins, Marketing Director
Terri Keitel, Marketing Representative
Vicki Trembly, Marketing Representative
Mandy Miller, Advertising Coordinator
Kristy Culp, Classified Advertising
Mindy Garrison, Admin. Assistant

SUBSCRIPTION 

Send subscriptions and renewals to: 

Steam Traction
1503 S.W. 42ND ST.
Topeka, KS 66609-1265
Telephone: (800) 880-7947
Fax: (785) 274-4300
Web address: www.SteamTraction.com

Steam Traction is published every other month by Ogden Publications Inc.
1503 S.W. 42ND ST.
Topeka, KS 66609-1265

Periodicals postage paid at Topeka, KS, and additional mailing offices. Canada Post International Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement No. 40601019

Postmaster: Send address changes to Steam Traction
1503 S.W. 42ND ST.
Topeka, KS 66609-1265

Contact us for a listing of deadlines for submission of material for coming issues.