THE COMPANY MACHINE

Content Tools

Camptonville, California

I just received my new Iron-Men Magazine which is out of this world and at times makes me very homesick. I hope you folks print it for the next hundred years.

I am originally from Lake City, Michigan, Missaukee County. I sort of grew up a little too late for steam engines although I was always around when threshing time came. We called the outfit that was around home the 'Company Machine' because it belonged to the local farmers consisting of Oldrich Hillman, Frank Salami, John Aho, Morris Howey, John Beilby, Flora Miller, Ed Becker and many others.

It was a 19 hp. Port Huron engine and a Red River Special separator. Flora Miller was the engineer. He would lay down on that old whistle rope in the mornings. I believe he actually went to sleep on it. You could hear that whistle for miles. There was another fellow that used to run the engine at times his name is Bill Houghs. As far as I know, Bill is still alive, but Flora has passed on God rest his soul.

These two old gentlemen were engineers for Mitchel Bros. Lumber Co. when Jennings, Michigan was going strong. I believe the engines that they ran were narrow gauge engines used in hauling logs to the mill. I don't know what make of engines they were but have heard from different sources that the narrow gauge engine which sets in the park in Cadillac, Michigan was also used by Mitchel Bros. at Jennings. I had heard that Cobb Lumber Company went in with Mitchel Bros. Lumber. Once in a while you would find a few old tools which had Mitchel and Cobb on them, so I took for granted that they manufactured it. About the only man that knows the whole history would be Fred Hertzel of Morristown, Michigan.

I wrote to a Mr. and Mrs. Frank Wright from Lansing, Michigan after coming across their names in your magazine. I went over and stayed a few days with Frank and Erna and had a very nice visit with them. We went out to Mason, Michigan to have a look at their Shepard engine which looked to be in very good shape, although we didn't fire it up. I heard a transcription of their engine and I thought it was the weirdest sounding engine I had ever heard. It sounded like a bunch of snare drums all playing at once. Then I was told by Frank that it was the nature of that engine to have a sharp exhaust.

After spending a week with the Wright's I went over to the round house of Cadillac and Lake City Railroad. My friend, Carlton Johnson is the engineer there. Carlton is one fine man and what a grand time I had riding in the engine back and forth from Lake City to Cadillac.

Carlton has several engines, one a little old six horsepower Russell. It was drawn by horses. It was completely restored by Carlton.

On weekends, Carlton and I would go out in the country and look around. The last place we visited was a fellow that lived up by Buckley, Michigan. The man was getting his 19 hp. Port Huron tuned up. He had it running a Baker Fan the first one I ever saw. I could have gone to sleep on that engine it ran so nice an even. For one reason or other though, we couldn't keep up steam. I believe it was the fuel we were using. They were using old and rotten wood and you can't keep steam up very good with that kind of fuel.

When I came home, I sure had many fond memories of those engines.

I'm hoping to be able some day to get home to one of those old time meets and try my luck at the throttle and the clutch of an engine. Maybe, it will run every direction than what I want it to, but at least I could say I was at the controls of a man's engine.