STEAM IN THE TALL CORN

8 inch fire whistle

Courtesy of Mr. Harold Smith, Ralston, Iowa 51459. This is an 8 inch fire whistle with Neil Miller's 32 HP Reeves. This was taken after the show of 1965 west of Alden, Iowa. On the left is Marlin Hilhouse, R.F.D., Iowa Falls and Forrest Lafferty, Collins

Harold Smith

Content Tools

Ralston, Iowa 51459

Again it was our privilege to attend fine shows in a rather rainy summer. The Miller show, west of Alden, opened with light drizzle of rain which caused an element of uncertainty regarding pulling certain exhibits out of sheds. But the rain of August 20th. provided good traction and spirit of attendance was high. Grain threshed, lumber cut and 32 HP Reeves and 75 HP Case drew 8 bottom plows through hard dry soil which produced plenty of stack talk that the old timers love to hear. Again H. G. Surls of  Iowa Falls played Home Sweet Home on the giant 8 inch whistle which used to sound the fire alarm at Iowa Falls. This whistle has grown since our report of 1964. We were present when this whistle was brought to the ground. It looked like a big 6 inches. The yard stick read 8 inches in diameter and 19 inches in length.

August 21st. Ground fog and rain. Features of the show were carried out and attendance above expectation.

On the 22nd, the weather was fine and we had a large attendance and everyone had a fine time. This show is expanding - many new exhibits and features indicate it will be well worth attending in the future.

August 27th to 29th. We (which includes the rain) were at Justin Hingtgen farm north of Maquoketa. Throughout the show most features were on time. They were there -Harry Woodmanse with expert control climbing high ramp, Melvin Lugten with the crowd drawing veneer machine and after a lot of rocking, he balanced engine on teeter, Ray Ernst with his nice 6 HP Nichols and Shepard, The Howard Mason Orchestra and others with fine music and on Sunday afternoon, Radio Station K M A Q of Maquoketa provided interesting live broadcast at the show. There was plenty to eat, drink and a lot to see and hear and with the fine hospitality shown by our host, Justin, what more could one ask for? A show to linger in the memory and ahead to 1966.

Prior to September 3rd., we arrived at Antique Acres north of Cedar Falls, to find a lot of activity to get the show on the road. The most interesting sight was the unloading of the only engine of its size and make, the 40-140 Cross Compound Reeves, off of a lowboy. After a lot of hard work and breaking a lot of cables, that 32 ton of engine was moved to solid ground.

Light rain announced the opening of the show for September 3rd., but as the soil is somewhat sandy, the engines could roll. September 4th. -the rain again took a hand in the show, but the show went on. September 5th. was clear weatherwise so everything got into full swing. Lumber and shingles were rolling off the mills, Baker fans and prony brake were in action. The Cedar Valley Region of the Antique Car Club of America had 30 cars to remind us of bygone days. Included was a German car which resembles our cars in a lot of respects but a lot of features in construction both good and bad. This car, a Fendt German-Tractor and a Russian Crawler, are owned by Verne Shields of Waverly, Iowa. When you see a dragline or other machine with name Baotam on it, think of Verne.

A lot of popping and barking announced that we were nearing the gas engine display where there were about 60 engines and most of them operating. An unusual one was a 6 cycle engine. It was operated the same as a 4 cycle except that the extra cycle helped keep the cylinder cool. Yes, we had good music by the Duane Berley Combo which kept a lot of feet stamping. One of the announcers did a good job of vocalizing. As it should be, the merry-go-round was powered by steam. So there were no dull times for the kids. Some of the members behind this show deserve special note. They have heavy investment in machinery shown at this show but at great labor and expense, secured items that are seen only at this kind of show. Also a lot of labor required to get ready for the show is by these men.

Labor Day, the 6th., the rain again moved in and really it did not help the show. However, there was the parade and a Greyhound engine got into a drag race with a Reeves double Simple Engine. On the first trial the Reeves was ahead but Art Huyser claims he didn't remember working on the governor around behind the water tank but on the next round he was way ahead of the Reeves. This was somewhat on the order of a turtle race but was enjoyed by many.

The show at Antique Acres was a good show. Why not look ahead to attending in 1966?

Minnesota can put on good shows. September 12th we were near Oakland, which is north of Moscow and just a short way north of the Iowa line. Here we found some old friends, Henry Christgur with his nice one half scale Avery belted up to Gilbert Swartzrocks little sawmill. They were making pickets and weaving and setting up fence right on the spot. Hap Crowell found the cab rather small but he kept the Avery hot. Lot of unusual tractors including a Townsend that looks like a steam engine but is not. The gas engine sets on what would be the boiler but is the radiator and the exhaust in the stack is the radiator fan. We counted 33 gas engines of almost every make. One was a nice Fairbanks-Morse in wonderful shape. This engine idled to very slow speed and still ran steady. The crankshaft would turn over ten times and then one boomp and it was good for another ten rounds. The handfed separator was well demonstrated. This was a really good show. Attend a show in Minnesota in 1966. There was a drizzle of rain to remind one that rain also exists in Minnesota but the engines were smoking and rolling; all the features were in full swing, grain threshed, lumber cut and last but not least, there was plenty sounds of whistles with plenty of steam behind them. So, really, what more can a steam buff ask for? Rain prevented our taking pictures at Mississippi Valley Show when our time was available. Will try again.