1121 Hilltop Lane, Modesto, Calif.
It is once again time to send in my annual report on steam doings and events as I took part in them here on the west coast during 1967. We had a lot of fun and I did something I haven't done in 11 years namely, fired a steam locomotive with oil! But, I'm getting ahead of myself and will get to the heart of the situation.
About the first steaming up or taking part in anything like steam after a long, wet spring which was unusual out in this part of the country, was a ride on the McCloud River railroad, which operates from McCloud, Calif., east to Hambone, with a connection on both Western Pacific and Great Northern and west to a Southern Pacific connection at Mt. Shasta, about ten miles north of Dunsmuir on the main line. The McCloud River railroad winds around the foot of beautiful Mt. Shasta and last June, with snow way down below the timberline, on a warm June 23rd, it was ideal for the trip, sponsored jointly by two railroad hobby clubs in San Francisco; the trees were nice and green and there was water running everywhere. The town of McCloud was one of the last sawmill company owned towns in the country and it's quaint wooden houses, wooden sidewalks and quiet atmosphere are hard to find in today's world of hurry. The no. 25, a 2-6-2 locomotive is the last of McCloud's former steam fleet and is used several times a year for special trips like this, and housed in a tight building during bad weather. Of course, main line logging and freight hauling operations have long since been dieselized. At 10:00 AM, the 2-6-2 eased down from the shop, locked couplers, made the air test and we were off! It made the blood run cold to hear the deep, sharp heavy exhausts, as the train left the station, the echoes of the sharp whistle blasts as they echoed back from the timber and mountain sides, then the quickening, short softer sounds of the exhaust as the engineer hooked up his reverse lever. A couple of photo stops and runbys were made everyone got plenty of slides, movies and taped all the sound. Water was taken on the east bound trip. At Barrol, the engine was turned and water taken again, the train arriving back in McCloud at noon. After dinner, the train headed up the 4 per cent grade for Mt. Shasta, climbing the side of the mountain, and requiring a switch back to negotiate the grade. We passed along a turntable, right on the mountainside, with long, skinny timbers supporting it on the low side, which was once used for turning helper engines in steam days. I sanded out the engine good. When the fireman let me fire it for half an hour-it didn't take long for the knack to come back to me and I imagined I was back firing a 4400 class 4-8-4 on the SP's mainline! I kept 'er hot and showed some of the riders in the cab how it was done in the good days. The rest of the day was uneventful, but happy for all of us. This engine is maintained in beautiful condition and has square valves and the McCloud River boys know how to operate a steam locomotive in the mountains.
The middle of June, Richard and I went up to G. A. Humann's to help haul and stack wheat for the threshing bee Labor Day weekend. We got up early on both Saturday and Sunday morning to haul bundles while dew was still on-grain then became very dry and shattered easily. When we got through, 6 big stacks waited for the threshing machines in September. I didn't make it to Oregon for the first time in ten years, due to pressure of work and the lateness of the season. The annual meeting of the Western Steam Fiends was held at Orofino, Idaho, with Joe Richardson, the sponsoring host and holding a steam threshing bee in conjunction with it. Rodney Pitts was elected President, and Wally Getman was elected vice-president, and all other officers and directors re-elected for another year. Annual meeting for 1968 is planned for Winlock, Washington sometime in August as far as I know at this time. This meeting and steam threshing took place Labor Day week-end.
The G. A. Humann show was held Sept. 2nd-3rd and on Thursday before, I loaded up a 3 HP Z C Fairbanks-Morse gas engine, 6-inch IHC burr grinder, tools, belts, etc in the pickup and with Richard, arrived a little early to help get things ready. Godfrey had brought in 4 gas engines from the coast and after looking them over, decided a 7 Fair banks-Morse type B offered the most immediate prospects of starting after all of them had set for 2 or three years without running. After putting gas in tank, greasing and oiling around, cleaning spark plug, a couple of heaves on the flywheel and with a bang, she took right off. It ran most of the next 3 days and a man bought it for $50.00. The plowing lands were laid off and Saturday morning, after Wilbur Skaar, Leonard Miller and more of the regulars showed up, steam threshing took place. The Oil-Pull was pulling the 22 x 38 Red River Machine, and Wilbur and Richard were giving people rides on the 2-foot gauge steam railroad. Steam threshing was done by the Case machine, belted to the Advance, Russell engine and Gaar-Scott, alternately morning and afternoon both days. Baling straw with mules followed, then shelling corn with a Marseille two-hole spring sheller, pulled by a stationary steam engine; then the corn was ground with the 6-inch IHC burr mill belted to Oliver Wilson's 6-7 Z Fairbanks-Morse gas engine. Wheat was ground in the 6-inch IHC Hammer mill, pulled by the 1929 GP John Deere tractor. Plowing came after, the Gaar-Scott engine pulling 5 bottoms, followed by the 22-36 McCormick-Deering pulling 3 bottoms and the 2-Ton Holt pulling 2 bottoms. They really laid over a strip of land! The noon whistle then sounded. After noon, the one o'clock whistle sounded and all equipment went by in the parade. This was followed by steam and gas threshing, plowing and pretty much the morning program and this was done both days. 1 plowed with the 22-36 both days, and operated the Russell engine, threshing the last steak of wheat Sunday afternoon and then pulling the machine out of the set. Gasoline alley was well represented with over a dozen engines running; R. A. Squires brought up his rare Aeromotor pump jack engine, and a two cylinder opposed Maytag; Cliff Hardy, of Woodland, had his 4 HP upright Cushman belted to an old washing machine, Jack Lucas of Durham had his 20 HP Fairbanks-Morse type Y Style H hot engine present and running together with his rare Yuba City ball-tread crawler tractor, Oliver Wilson had a nicely-restored 6 HP Z Fairbanks-Morse engine, together with his Z C 6-7 HP F-M job and then we got Godfrey's 1 Ward's Sattley engine running. Dick Squires and some of the other fellows got a 1 HP Bulldog engine running quite well and this was a busy corner both days. Godfrey added a nice 22-36 McCormick-Deering tractor to his collection last year it is beautifully restored and I drove it both days my favorite gas tractor. He also purchased both a nice 2-Ton Holt and a Sixty BEST crawler tractor and by now both have probably been through the shop and fully restored. A man from Lebanon, Oregon played the part of the old, itinerant harvest hand, with his fork and bundle in his pickup he had a Root & VanDevroot engine and Stover wooden hoppered burr grinder on display. A large crowd was present both days and all equipment worked well the whole show was a great success.
My wife and I left by train, Sept. 26th for my old home in Nebraska, going east on San Francisco Streamliner (102) and met my mother at Columbus. The weekend of Sept. 20-Oct. 1st, 1 took part in the Wm. J. Mayberry steam threshing east of Niobrara, Nebraska, helping out on a nice 20 HP Aultman-Taylor butt-strap boilered engine both days. This show started up in 1955 with one steam engine, a 20 Minneapolis and 32 x 56 steel Advance-Rumely separator with a crowd of about 500 people present because Mr. Mayberry, who started threshing in 1913 with gas power, then went to steam for power, had some friends who wanted to see an old steam threshing rig in action once more. He threshed continuously until about 1959, which was his last year at custom threshing. He used Avery, Reeves and Case steamers, Oil-Pull, Avery and other makes of tractors in gas power. He is 74 years of age at present time and still is very active he stacks his own grain each year and has a large farming operation besides. His show has grown to the following equipment; 20 Advance-Rumely, late style, butt-strap boiler, 65 Case, fully restored, 16 and 18 Aultman-Taylor engines, 20 and 28 Minneapolis engines, butt-strap boilers, and a scale model of an undermounted Avery engine. A neighbor, Mr. Carl Reichert, brought over his fine 20 Aultman-Taylor and 22-45 cross-motor Aultman-Taylor gas tractor for the show. In the gas tractor line, Mr. May berry has the 15-30 and 30-60 Oil-Pulls, type F & G, a late style 30-60 and 20-35 Oil Pulls, a 45-65 Avery, 30-60 cross-motor Aultman-Taylor gas tractor, a nice Ten Holt H of about 1923 date, just before Holt-Best merger in 1925; in the smaller tractor types he has an early 15-30 McCormick-Deering, Regular Farmall, Moline Universal, 4-wheel drive Massey-Harris, Model D and standard tread John Deere to mention a few. He has at least a dozen gas engines of various sizes and makes Fairbanks-Morse, International Mogul, Witte drag saw John Deere and others I didn't have time to identify. Two men brought in a nice 5 HP Fuller and Johnson and 6 Hp Galloway, both with Webster magneto-make and break ignition mounted on 4-wheel trucks and both running like a fine watch. In the old horse-drawn machinery line, he has single and double-row horse drawn cultivators, sulky and 2-bottom gang plows, corn planter, Walking plow, horse-powered sweep grinder like my father had on the farm years ago and a one-horse drill like was used to drill wheat between the corn rows years ago. This does not mention all of the machinery I saw only the more rare pieces. In addition, he has a sawmill, which was in operation both days of the show, a 40 x 62 Case separator, 32 x 56 Advance-Rumely steel and a wooden A-R, about same size, a Red River Special 31 x 48 horse-powered hand-feed, straw slat carrier fully restored and it's companion horse power, a Baker fan that really flattened the weeds when belted up to a steam engine, a large gang plow and a Marion and Nordyke stone burr mill mounted on an old truck chassis, and powered by a steam engine and upright boiler it ground corn into corn meal during show. There was also a large collection of antiques of many kinds on exhibit a lot of old brass lamps and lanterns, old hand-powered washing machines, butter churns; a lot of fine, old dishes, and other pioneer articles that I have forgotten the name of and a lot of old and modern telephones.
There was a parade each morning about 10:00 AM, followed by Baker fan activity and lunch at noon on Sunday was buffalo burgers and plates, from a buffalo butchered and barbecued for the occasion. This was a sell-out. A model FA Rock-Island tractor came in and two half-size model steam traction engines were present, as was a -scale and a 1/12-scale engine. A Mr. Garret Havalaar, Hudson, S. Dakota brought in a -scale Avery steel threshing machine that also had same scale bundle rack and grain wagon with it and it was belted to a Vi size Case engine and threshed a lot of grain Sunday one could hardly get up to it to see it work, so great was the crowd. In the afternoon, after another parade, threshing was done with the 30-60 Aultman-Taylor gas tractor belted to the 40 x 62 Case machine and a lady
engineer started off the whole rig as nice as any man I ever saw! She had a nice hand on the throttle and clutch. Saturday, the 20 Advance-Rumely was belted to the 32 x 56 A-R separator and threshed; Sunday, the same machine was pulled by the 20 Aultman-Taylor steamer and the highlight of the entire show to me was the horse-powered Red River Special machine, powered by 12 big Belgian draft horses. It threshed both days and the machine really turned out a lot of oats and a huge pile of straw. So far as I know, only one other horse-powered machine was in operation last season. The crowd was so thick around the rig that it was hard to get good pictures. First day, the horses had trouble getting used to machine but by Sunday they started hitting their stride. This rig has operated this manner for 3 years now and 6 of the horses came from 20 miles away, the balance from over a hundred miles away.
There were about 18 old automobiles of various makes including a Rolls Royce, Model T Ford and a rare old truck, name of which I don't recall at the moment. The horse-powered machine was found sunk to the axles in a shed in South Dakota several years ago and after being moved home and restored, it now looks like new, with decals and all. The crowd was estimated at between 10-11,000 and to me, it seemed if more help could have been in charge of the gas engine end, a show almost could have taken place right in that end of the grounds. There was plenty of parking room on spacious grounds and the weather was hot and just right for threshing. 1 hope to see this show again someday. The Mayberry's are friendly people and have lived in this area for well over 40 years. Mr. Mayberry threshed for my uncle who lives in this area in years past. Anyone passing this way ought to drop in and see these fine people and their huge lot of fine equipment.
After coming home on the California Zephyr, I helped Loren M. Wade, of Tracy, get ready for his steam threshing. Hauled over some baled straw and oats, got the roller and Case 50 ready and oiled around and belted up the 28 x 46 Case separator, and on Oct. 29, we had another steam threshing. Glenn Weagent was present, Wilbur Skaar ran the roller and made a road through the orchard. We held some belting-up contests and with one man it took about 5 minutes with 2 men on the engine, it took about half as long. When we were finished, the wood pile was low, some sacks full of oats and a nice straw pile reminded us of the good time we all had. And, on this note, the steam doings of 1967 are now history.
Loren tells me that the Shell Oil Pipelines division shut down their pipeline and steam pumping plants about the 1st of February from Fresno to Martinez. This will take some fine Corliss steam cross-compound rod engines out of service, together with well-maintained boilers and allied steam equipment. But, this is progress, I'm told. What do you think? This report is a little late, but I had a lot of fun last year and am looking forward to a busy steam season this coming year.