Bismarck, Missouri 63624
It was the day before Thanksgiving Day, 1925 that my partner, Lem Meador and I, started to move our 19-hp Port Huron engine about 15 miles to put it into use in our saw mill. The water tank mounted on a wagon was filled with water, the top piled high with coal and hitched behind the engine and we started the long move. This was in South Central Illinois, near the town of Vernon. That area is reasonably level, and the roads are easy to get over with an engine. As soon as we were out on the road, Lem got into his Baby Overland car and went on ahead to check bridges and make arrangements for going around any bridges that might prove to be too great a risk. This left me to bring the engine all by myself a job I enjoyed.
The first ten miles was covered without incident. I had eaten a lunch I had brought along and was moving along nicely along the wide level road; I set the steering wheel straight ahead and stepped down to throw in a fire of coal, when the engine's exhaust began suddenly to bark sharp and clear, indicating the engine was laboring under a heavy load. My first thought was that the engine had ran into the ditch beside the road and it was then that I made my first mistake I closed the throttle.
I looked over the side of the driver and saw I had ran into a springy place in the road dry on top but soft underneath. It was then I made my second mistake; I reversed the engine and tried to back out of the soft spot, and the result was that the drivers slipped and the bottom of the fire box was sitting on the mud. About this time Meador arrived on the scene and we went to a nearby woods, cut some poles and tried to get the drivers to run up onto them, but the more we worked the more helplessly we became mired. Darkness came upon us and we went to the home of a nearby farmer, borrowed two lanterns and hung them on the engine as a protection of sorts for any motorist that might happen along, and went home. The next day being Thanksgiving we decided to put off the job of getting the engine out, until after the feast day. On Friday morning, we were at the scene by the time the sun came up. We had shovels and spades and were all set for a long digging job. I have seen many engines stuck in mud, sand, in ditches and in various other ways, but I have never seen one so completely mired as this one was.
'It Will Set Fire to Our Strawstacks,' Farmers Complained When They Saw It
Replica of the First Combine
This picture. shows how the engineers of Michigan State College interpreted the patent claims of Hiram Moore, of Climax, Michigan, who nearly a hundred years ago invented and built the world's first combine harvester and thresher and successfully harvested and threshed in a single day 1,100 bushels of wheat with the machine pulled by 20 horses on his farm near Climax. On October 3 at 10 a. m. a tablet will be placed on a boulder at the edge of this field in memory of Mr. Moore. The public is invited. To have a part in this educational movement Michigan Farmer readers are sending to the Editor of the Michigan Farmer one cent each, to be used in defraying the expense of placing this tablet. Courtesy of Gilbert W. Bird, R, 9, Box 2185, Battle Creek, Mich.
We started digging about 12 feet ahead of the front wheels, gradually sloping down and toward the engine. By nightfall we had the earth all dug out from around the engine and under it to a point level with the bottom of the drivers. The next day a nearby farmer hauled some bridge planks to the scene; these were placed under the drivers, or rather in front of the drivers so the wheels would run up onto them. Then we took a long heavy rope, wrapped it around the fly wheel of the engine and the farmer hitched his team to one end of the rope in such a manner as to revolve the flywheel; with the clutch engaged, the engine would move forward a short distance each time the length of rope was unwound from the wheel. It was late in the afternoon of Saturday before the engine was out in the solid ground again.
Before threshing time rolled around again, I left that area and did not return again for about seven years. And while we had filled in the depression in the road where we dug the engine out, the first man I met after I returned after seven years of absence, jokingly requested that I come out and fix the mud hole I had created; He said each winter the road became almost impassible at that spot.