Oklahomans Host First J. I. Case Exposition at Pawnee

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One of America's premier steam and gas shows, the Oklahoma Steam and Gas Threshermen's Association's annual event at Pawnee, will host the first International J. I. Case Heritage Exposition on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 1-3, 1987.

Announcement of the Pawnee Show's selection was made by Jim Briden, who is a leading light at the annual Western Minnesota Thresher's Reunion at Rollag and is heading up the recently formed International J. I. Case Heritage Steering Committee.

'For this first Case Expo, we're planning the greatest ever gathering of Case steam engines, tractors, machinery, collectors and people from all over the United States and Canada,' Pawnee spokesman Kenneth Kelley reported. 'We're going to have the finest Case show in history next May, and we want everybody to come to Oklahoma to enjoy this first of what all of us hope will be a long line of great international celebrations of the J. I. Case Heritage.' The Oklahoma Association has been busy lining up special attractions for the 1987 event. Already corralled is George W. Hedtke's one and only existing boiler from the long-extinct 150 HP J. I. Case road locomotive. The boiler will make a rare visit away from its home base at Hedtke's Hickory Oaks Farm near Davis Junction, Illinois. But, even without 'extras' being planned for 1987, the Pawnee show already routinely puts on one of the nation's best yearly 'living and moving' exhibitions of America's agricultural heritage.

'Just for starters,' noted W. C. 'Chady' Atteberry of the Oklahoma group, 'we have the full line 'from the biggest to the smallest' of J. I. Case steam traction engines. We have 18 Case steamers based right at Pawnee, so we don't even have to haul them in; and we hope to have 25 or more on hand for the 1987 Case Exposition.

'We'd really like to see Case steam and gas engines, Case cars and Case machinery coming into Pawnee from every state in the U.S. and all of the provinces of Canada,' Atteberry added. 'Everybody's welcome in Pawnee, where we like people and always have a good time at our show.'

A major attraction at Pawnee for the 1987 show certainly will be the 50 percent incline, where Atteberry (protege of the late E. C. 'Big Mac' McMillan) twice daily will offer his unique demonstration of the tremendous hill-climbing ability of Case steam power. It's a daring replay of the event that thrilled the crowds at the St. Louis World's Fair many decades ago.

For next year's Case Expo, Helen Case Brigham, great-granddaughter of J. I. Case, will again be at Pawnee to join 'Chady' on his rides up and down the incline. She also will be found at Pawnee behind the 'wheel' of steam and gas tractors, riding the 12-bottom plow and meeting Case friends new and old from all over.

Another big crowd-pleaser at Pawnee is the almost continuous demonstration of the 'Prony Brake' probably the most interesting measurer of steam and gas horsepower ever conceived. When the Prony's maestro (Amos Rixmann of Nashville, Illinois) and his associates hitch the big belt to those powerful gas and steam engines, big crowds gather to witness the tests and to be educated by Amos about how performance is being translated to an accurate measurement of horsepower.

Other attractions at the International Case Expo in Pawnee will include threshing, plowing (from a single plow pulled by horses up to 12 bottoms pulled by steam power), and scores of Case steam and gas tractors always moving about the Pawnee grounds to entertain the thousands of people who annually flock to this show. That 'usual' crowd should swell by many more thousands in 1987 as J. I. Case enthusiasts make the pilgrimage to the first Case Expo.

In 1986, people from at least 25 states and two Canadian provinces were on hand for the Oklahoma show.

'This year, we'd really hope to have all of the States and provinces represented,' Kenneth Kelley said. 'And, we're looking forward to seeing every kind of Case memorabilia on hand. Whether they collect Case cars, tractors, decals or watch fobs or just want to see a good show, followers of the Case heritage will be welcomed enthusiastically to Oklahoma.'

The International J. I. Case Heritage Steering Committee plans to schedule a gathering of exhibitors and other persons interested in the future of the Case Heritage movement during the three-day event at Pawnee.

Entertainment especially attuned to the Oklahoma location will include live country music and performances by American Indian dancers. Persons who drive to Pawnee from other regions of the United States and Canada will find themselves traveling through Oklahoma's beautiful 'Green Country,' featuring lush pastures, productive farmlands and more than just an occasional oil well. Oklahoma is an interesting and beautiful state to see.

This 2040 Case gas tractor, along with many other steam and gas tractors, will again be put to the horsepower test by Pawnee's popular 'Prony Brake' at the First International J. I. Case Heritage Exposition

With a recently approved State grant in hand to help with the project, the Oklahoma Association hopes to get track laid in time to have its narrow gauge steam railroad operating on the Expo grounds in May. Even without the railroad, Pawnee's established exhibits, including a big collection of stationary engines, a roving calliope, many craft displays and a wide assortment of operating demonstrations (sawmill, corn-grinding, shingle-making and dozens of other exhibits), would make the 1987 J. I. Case Expo something special.

With all roads for Case admirers or people who just like a great steam and gas show leading to Pawnee next May, everybody's singing: 'You're okay, Oklahoma. . .Oklahoma's OK!'

Those persons who have questions about bringing an engine, tractor or other appropriate exhibit to Pawnee or those who simply want to plan ahead for attendance at the Expo and have questions about lodging, camping, etc. should address their inquiries to the OklahomaThreshermen's Association, c/o Kenneth Kelley, Box 211, Route 1, Pawnee, OK 74631.

W. C. 'Chady' Attebcrry, accompanied here by Helen Case Brigham (J. I. Case's great-granddaughter) will be traveling the 50 percent incline twice daily at the Case Heritage Expo on May 1-3. His 40 HP steam traction engine is known as the 'Elgin Watch of Steamers' and was formerly owned and operated by Atteberry's close friend, the legendary E. C. 'Big Mac' McMillan.

Note: The author is 'Brig', husband of Helen Case Brigham. He and Helen attended the 1986 Oklahoma Show to get a feel for what the biggest J. I. Case event in history might be like at Pawnee in 1987. They both liked what they saw, so both of them, plus their two sons (J. I.'s great-greats) plan to be there from start to finish on May 1-3.