'A letter that inspired me to write was an article by Lloyd Creed in the March/April issue about the picture that he believes to be Steam Injun Joe's Place. I believe him to be correct,' writes STANLEY O. BYERLY, 7155 Corydon Jct. Road N.E., New Salisbury, Indiana 47161
'I don't know beans about steam, but I had heard of Joe for years. So, one day I stopped and talked to Joe. I found him to be quite an interesting fellow. His knowledge about all machinery was extraordinary.
'I took a picture of his oldest engine, a portable Nichols/Shepherd. He said the only oldest engine is in the Ford Museum or the Smithsonian I can't remember.
'It was about eight years ago that I was there. He told me that he and his father bought all those engines so the junk man couldn't get them. They are sitting there, rusting away. If he has a sale, it should be some sale, as he has about everything you can imagine.
'As I stated awhile ago, I don't know steam about beans, or is it the other way around? Ha, Ha! The closest I came to be around steam was while I was a child growing up south of Crandall, Indiana. There was a neighbor, Charles Barksdale, who had a sawmill about one mile from our house. It was powered by a 65 Case. I can still hear it run, for on a clear day one could hear the governor open up when there was a log put through the saw.
'Charles got rid of the engine about 1954 or thereabouts. The engine went to Kentucky and stayed there until about ten years ago, when Arville Hendricks and Doc Klinerts brought it back to Indiana. Arville fixed it up like new. After Arville passed away the engine went downhill and when Doc had his sale three or four years ago, it was in sad shape. I don't remember who got it or where it went.
'I enjoy the IMA very much, because machinery is my hobby.'
WALTER WARDEN, 184 South Washington Street, Binghamton, New York 13903 writes us: 'In the May/June 1979 IMA, you printed a recipe for a Stew Hot Dish from Mrs. Robert Street. We tried it and like it and have it often. It works well with lamb, veal or pork and a purple topped turnip chopped up in it is good. It is such an easy dish to make.
'Now, to the engines in the photos. I don't have any large engines; no place to keep them. I do like to build models.
'I'm sending two photos of models I have built. Photo #1, the traction engine was built from photos and sketches in Floyd Clymer's book Steam Traction Engines. The saw I built from photos I took at a show.
'The upright #2 steam engine I also built from photos. The engine this was copied from used to drive a cider mill at the Old Stump Jumpers Show.'
'I was interested by the picture of the remains of a large tractor, page 14, March/April issue,' writes ANDREW L. MICHELS, 302 Highland Avenue, Plentywood, Montana 59254. 'My curiosity led me to look what it is. In Wendel's tractor book on page 169, Kemble & Dentler seems to be it. It is the only one close to it.
'A question: Why do sawmills run straight belts?
'Back to 'wheels,' the frame would indicate it is a gas tractor.'
The following writing is submitted by LEIGH B. DENNISON, Box 873, Delta Junction, Alaska 99737. (Welcome, Leigh! I don't get too much mail from that area.)
'You keep saying you want letters, so I will offer a somewhat disjointed effort. I don't have much knowledge in the field of steam, but I love to read about it. A bit more knowledge in gas and oil, though not enough to write a textbook.
'I enjoy reading Rich Barlow's letters because he talks about familiar things.
'I would almost bet the Porter locomotive he mentions in his letter in the November/December issue is the one that sat in front of the Fairbanks railroad station until about 1960. I have a picture of it there in the early 1950s. It served the Tanana Valley Railroad in the early part of the century. I went to work for the Fairbanks Experiment Station in 1950. In the process of clearing the land on the farm we uncovered a perfect set of car wheels that were left by the track.
'The 1925 industrial complex Rich mentions in the March/April issue is undoubtedly the large building from the USSRM (Fairbanks Exploration) headquarters. I can imagine the treasures in there. I turned down a job with them in 1950 because it was 12 hours a day thawing frozen ground for dredging using cold water and inch pipes in a grid of about 10 square feet (memory may be a bit faulty on distance) and slopping around in the cold mud all day (or night).
'This company had many D-2 Cats for moving many things around, plus of course larger Cats for the heavy work. They also had several electric dredges in the Fairbanks area. The power plant for operating the dredges was in the complex Rich mentions. I believe the building went to one of the dredges north of town which is now a summer tourist attraction.
'We have Chena Hotsprings about 65 miles east of Fairbanks which has a large collection of steam winches and stationary steam engines, dredge buckets, a Model T tractor conversion, a grain binder and miscellaneous assorted old items. Rich is right. There are old steam engines, winches, boilers, etc. scattered all over Alaska wherever there was, or was thought to be, gold. It is so costly now that it is hardly worth it to bring them out.
'Also, the Federal Government owns 98% of Alaska, so you have to be extremely careful where you leave a footprint lest you end up in jail for destroying the environment.
'There is some old machinery, a large riverboat and several old buildings in Fairbanks at Alaskaland. At the University of Alaska Museum, there are more examples of old mining equipment, and the first automobile in Alaska, homemade by a local man approximately 1900, give or take a few years.
'Personally, I would love to see a pioneer power association take root in Fairbanks. I, personally, could not be a huge help since I live 100 miles away, or 85 miles from Rich's residence, but who knows? I have only a 1935 Farmall F-20 and a 1922, 3 HP McCormick Deering, Model M engine, but I enjoy working on them in the short summer time I have.
I have no idea how many Iron-Men Album or GEM subscribers are in Alaska. I know of one in our town who I have recommended to be a subscriber. He has already started a small homestead museum with a few engines and machines at Mile 1415 Alaska Highway. His particular interest is steam. His name is Larry Dorshorst.
'As for the House on the Rock, it is well worth a visit by anyone. I will not venture a guess as to what the traction engine is, but it is huge. As someone once said, the only way to be sure would be to get up close and check serial and patent numbers cast or stamped into the metal.
'The place is easy to find. It is 12 miles south of Spring Green and 6 miles north of Dodgeville, between US 14 and US 18 in Wisconsin. Rand McNally shows it on their road atlas.
'My only experience with steam was watching a steam shovel go by my house in East Lansing, Michigan, in the early 1920s. It burned coal and the fireman stepped off occasionally and went behind to rake the ashes out onto the road (gravel).
'I am enclosing a picture of a steam crane on a barge at the docks in Seattle in 1987. It was tearing down an old dock.
'It looks like I have rambled on long enough. One of these days I hope to drop in on Rich. We have a daughter and family living in North Pole, but we usually get there too late to go anywhere else considering an 85 mile trip back home at night. Someday I will revolt and go visiting.
'Anna Mae, keep on writing and printing letters. I love them!'
On the previous page are six really nice pictures sent to us by CHARLES O. HARTHY, 1629 Robbins Road, Grand Haven, Michigan 49417. He didn't send a letter but they are each identified says he found these cleaning house. (Thanks Charles!)
'Dear Friends, Members of the Iron-Men Album and Gas Engine Magazine staff: I was recently sorting through some of my father's estate and came across the enclosed pictures, which I had copied for your pleasure.
'The gentleman seated on the float is the late Rev. Elmer Ritzman, founder of your organization. These pictures were taken June 24, 1955 at the National Thresher's Reunion which was then held at the Williams County Fairgrounds near Montpelier, Ohio. The steam engine pulling the float is a 40 HP undermounted Avery. If I recall correctly, its owner was the late Justin Hingte (spelling?). Presumably, the float was assembled and staged by the 'National Thresher-women', a ladies auxiliary organization. It is obvious from the photo that Rev. Ritzman enjoyed a bit of humor.
'It would please me if you could include these photos in the next issue of IMA and GEM, as my fellow readers would then be reminded of the fact that this year celebrates the National Threshers 50th Reunion. I am 36 years old and consider myself fortunate to have attended 36 NTA reunions.'
This communication comes from WILL CUMMINGS, 8710 Vickery Road, Castalia, Ohio 44824-9777.(Thank you, Will. It's good to know we still have young folks interested in these magazines.)
I'm so happy I had more material this time than I have had in many months Praise the Lord! and please keep the material rolling in it's great!!
This letter comes from SUE HALEY, R.R. 2, Box 120, Odell, Illinois 60460. 'Though my husband has written several articles in IMA over the years, this is the first time I have written. The March/April IMA came in the mail today and I saw it lying on the arm of the chair and decided to scan through it. I turned to the first page and read 'Soot in the Flues'. It talked about miracles and how some say they are not for today. Well, those folks have reached me too late. I guess those who have never experienced a miracle don't believe in them. When you asked for people to write in about their miracles, I couldn't resist telling you this one.
'Some very special friends of ours, and avid steam buffs, Tracy and Teresa Powers from Morenci, Michigan, had their second child, Tyler, a couple years ago. Tyler was a premature baby and also had some serious complications, pneumonia and jaundice being among them. Tyler had tubes on him everywhere. He was being given morphine and Valium for pain. After being in the hospital for a week already, the doctors said he would remain in the hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for at least three to four more weeks.
Well, at the end of that first week, Tracy and Teresa went to see Tyler again, as they did every day. Only this time, he was worse to make a long story semi-short, I called her that night and told her we'd prayed for Tyler at church. She called me the very next day and told me when they went back to see Tyler, the jaundice was gone. He had suddenly started doing much better and he could come home in three to four days, not weeks! Needless to say, we knew God had performed a miracle in this precious little future engineer's life. Today, you would never know Tyler had such a rough beginning. I'm sure he'll be right up there beside his sister Tiffany, on the family Port Huron, with coal dust on his face, as they travel to steam shows this summer.
'Also, I will always know that God performed a miracle when he used Teresa Powers to introduce Jim Haley, an Illinois boy, to me, an Ohio girl, at the National Threshers Association in June 1988. The real miracle of it all is that he proposed less than a month later and we were married by December of that year. We'll be celebrating our sixth anniversary this year, and we're expecting our second child in October. So you see, miracles really do happen today!!' (And to that, Sue, I say AMEN! and thank you for sharing this with my column. Maybe we'll get some other letters on them. I have had quite a few of my own! Miracles, that is!!)
A contributor to our magazines many times, this letter comes from THOMAS STEBRITZ, 1516 E. Commercial Street, Algona, Iowa 50511: 'About Mr. Stutzman's letter from Canada, concerning his big set of wheels he bought recently and to comment first on the big steamer at the 'House on the Rock' exhibit. The steamer in question sits up on an altar in a half-darkened state, is rigged up to look like a British Showman's engine with a couple hundred lights on it, as are the two smaller steamers alongside it.
'The 'big' steamer is a 110 HP Case of a 1910 vintage, near as I could tell looking at it several years ago. The engine was owned for a number of years by Peter H. Burns of Woodman, Wisconsin. The BS concerning the 150 HP Case never ceases to pop upa few beers and certain persons believe any wild tale they hear. Eleven 150 HP Case boilers were built; three engines were built; all lemons! One engine, #14666, was junked out west. The other two quite apparently were returned to the factory and junked.
'Now, as for the 150 Case numbers that persons believe were engines, Case built skid boilers and put numbers on them consecutively to engine numbers. So, it is quite apparent the 150 skid boilers, ten of them were disposed of in this manner. I have a number of Case repair books and I urge anyone who wants to learn anything about Case or any other company, look at the repair books.
'I have to repeat to the unbelievers that my 1917 original Case repair book lists repairs for the first side crank which was #6747; but lists only boiler repairs for what was called the 150 HP skid boiler.
'A number of years ago, two stunts were pulled off using special hitches. Three Rumely OilPulls pulled a 50-bottom plow and three big I.H.C. tractors pulling a 55-bottom plow. The stunts were just that! You couldn't turn the whole mess!
'Several years ago a man from Canada made a statement that years back a 150 HP Case pulled a 50-bottom plow out west. I urge anyone who believes this to be possible to make a scale drawing of any size of this plow and the engine and try to believe that the plow would follow and do a good job. Impossible!
'Case listed the 110 Case to pull 10 to 20 plows breaking. The 150 Case engines that went to Kansas pulled 16 bottom plows breaking; really, in breaking, a 20 bottom plow would have been a load for the 150 Case, because it's not that much bigger than the 110 Case.
'In early 1900s, don't know the exact date, a man named L.C. Wood of Alden, Iowa, designed and built two loose cable drum type engines for grading and excavating. The wheels and frame that Mr. Stutzman owns is the remains of one of the engines.
'I talked to Mr. Wood sometime in the 1950s. I believe I had stopped at Alden, Iowa, to look at what Mr. Stutzman now owns. In his shop, a number of pictures of the two large engines in operation were on the walls. Mr. Wood's younger brother who helped build the engines told me about them. Apparently, they were dismantled after World War II. Neil Miller of Alden, Iowa, later bought the articles Mr. Stutzman had, and was sold later at his 1980 sale.
'Mr. Wood told me that he came up with his unique design of cable drum engines that fed the cable out under the smoke box. This way, the two engines faced each other. The grading machine worked back and forth between the two engines. When a stretch of work was completed, then one engine backed up the other, forward to a new area.
'A conventional cable drum engine would never have been practical in road building, because of the size of the engine and having to reset repeatedly sideways in a narrow right of way.
'About the idea that the engine was a stump puller. Mr. Wood's brother told of hooking onto large trees that were in the right of way.