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Otterbein, Indiana

Seventy-two steam, enthusiasts met Sunday afternoon, April 29, 1953 at Mudlavia Hotel in Warren County, not too far from the county seat, Williamsport, and the banks of the Wabash River. The day was cold and raw but steam kept everyone warm. During the afternoon registration was in charge of Mrs. Leonard Mann and Mrs. Glen Brutus. The men registered on one page, naming their engines, and the women registered on another page, naming their hobbies.

Three Monon Railroad films, in sound and color, were shown through the courtesy of Ernest Cox, Monon passenger engineer from Lafayette to Chicago.

Tours were made to the mud bath rooms. The humus decomposed vegetation at Mudlavia is found nowhere else in the world. It has been saturated for thousands of years with water from the lithia springs, containing soda, potash, magnesia and lithua, forming, a substance which has brought relief to many thousands. The mud is heated by steam, and after it is used once it is discarded and never used again.

A bountiful chicken supper was served at tables decorated with miniature black and gold Purdue University Boilermaker steam locomotives.

Afterwards, emcee Leonard Mann introduced James Whitbey, who announced the Reunion at his farm near Fort Wayne, Indiana, in August; Alva Trook, who invited everyone to his tracks for model steam locomotives the last Saturday and Sunday in May and October. His tracks are the second longest in the United States and are located south of Lafayette, Ind., on State Road 43. All those who owned steam engines were introduced, and they told what kind they had. One of the wives who was introduced said, 'I don't care anything about steam engines, but I think that steam engine people are the nicest in the world.'

Gifts were given as follows: for coming the farthest, Jim Whitbey; for being the windiest, Davis Sullivan; for having the most engines, Fred Kemna.

The group decided to organize and elected the following officers:

President, Leonard Mann, Otterbein, Ind.; Vice-president, Carter Dalton, Ambia, Ind.; Sec.-Treas., Glen J. Brutus, Pine Village, Ind. Board of Directors: Davis Sullivan, Markleville, Ind.; Fred Kemna, Danville, III.; James Whitbey, Ft. Wayne, Ind.; Lester Cork, West Lebanon, Ind.; Robert Johnson, North Terre Haute, Ind.; Gerald Hamilton, Hoopeston, III.; Ernest Cox, Lafayette, Ind.; Ralph Shelburne, Zionsville, Ind.; Alva Trook, Lafayete, Ind.

Later, the movie, 'When Steam Was King' was shown, through the courtesy of J. I. Case. Other slides and movies were shown with tape recordings of puffings and chuggings. The time was late when the last guest left, and all were full of enthusiasm for the coming year.


This report gathered April 29, 1956 at the Steam Engine Party at Mudlavia, in Warren County, Indiana.

The diversity of interests besides steam as shown by the wives of steam-minded men is astonishing. Here are some:

Church activities; Musicorgan, piano; Sports bowling, golf, swimming; Handicrafts sewing, embroidery, knitting, crocheting, raising plants and flowers African violets; Landscaping the home and farm; Collect: pitchers, salt and peppers, coins, stamps, Indian relics, handkerchiefs, old books, old dishes, bells, antique furniture, recipes and make books of them; Genealogies: Building a reference library by saving all Readers Digests, National Geographies and their indexes, all sections from Life of special interest and cataloging them together; Identifying birds and making bird books; Identifying trees of Indiana; Health foods, Slide pictures.