As a consequence I am still receiving mail and visits from people who have read about it, and I didn't really know that one engine could cause so much excitement.
The fair scene was filmed on an immense sound stage out at Republic Studios. With its high wooden false smokestack, it was far the most dominating thing in the scene, even with hundreds of actors milling around. Of the thousands of publicity photos made during the shooting of the picture, a great many of them were taken in the vicinity of the engine, showing it from every conceivable angle.
It seemed to me that Gary Cooper, with his western background must have felt right at home with such an engine, and one of these days I hope to discuss it with him.
It happens that I am a country guy from the neighborhood of Rochester, Minnesota. I have had a furniture business here in Oceanside for the past ten years. I always wanted an engine, because as a youth I had been a water boy for such an engine out in the fields. I finally got this engine from John Hale, a railroad engineer in Rochester, who had owned it for three years. Hale got it from Wausau, Wisconsin, where it had been in use in a lumber camp.
None of us know exactly how old it is, but we are still trying to find out. One thing we do know ... it runs. Here at Oceanside, I found Bill Ogle, a retired engineer who had considerable experience operating such engines. Bill comes from the lumber mills at Wausau, where this engine had been used. I also found Jim Childs, a Master Sergeant in the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton, a younger fellow, who comes from a farm in Nebraska, where he had also been around such engines. These two men usually help me whenever we run an engine. Then there happened into my store, Mr. William Francis, a corrosion engineer from the How E. Baker Co., Los Angeles, and Mr. Francis gave it a thorough inspection. We found that although the engine was built to carry 175 lbs. of steam, it would be wise, for reasons of safety, to keep it set at 125 lbs. This would give us 16 hp. The question of getting enough coal was a serious one, and
we only know one place in San Diego County to get it.
I also found an Advance-Rumely threshing-machine (separator) which is the only one of its kind, so far as I know, in this part of the state. We have used the engine and the threshing machine in several parades locally and in San Diego. The state American Legion and the Forty and Eight had us in parades in San Diego and we won first prize both times. We may be in the national Legion parade in Los Angeles next summer.
In a recent issue of the ALBUM I saw a photo of an engine owned by Elwood Allnutt, Chillicothe, Missouri, and noticed that it had exactly the same serial numbers as mine, 2277 M and 2281 M. I have corresponded with the owner and now have written to the president of the Minneapolis-Moline Co., Mr. W. C. MacFarlane, to see if he can establish the age of this series for us. It would be a great satisfaction.
I keep the engine and threshing machine on a lot I own on the east side of town, but just outside my store I have a number of smaller if less interesting treasures-six ancient automobiles and some old bicycles. My 1912 Pierce-Arrow was recently driven in the March of Dimes cavalcade organized by Mr. Henry Austin Clark, Jr., who has the famed automobile museum at Southampton, Long Island. It takes time and investment to keep all these treasures in condition but the rewards are gratifying, as you can see. Someday I hope to have
a small museum so naturally I am interested in acquiring as many items as I can.
To date, and probably for always, the steam traction engine is the King of the Road.
(Latest information is to the effect that this movie was to be released in October, 1956. Watch your movie listing for dates.)