The Little Engine That Could

(Or, the 29-Ton Rusted Hulk That Often Appeared As Though It Never Would)

Wheel assembly

Ameliasburgh Volunteer Firefighters help with wheel assembly.

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Ameliasburgh Historical Museum, Box 67 Ameliasburgh, Ontario K0K 1A0

Early April 1988a dull, drizzly morning. A small but dedicated group met behind the Ameliasburgh Historical Museum. Why? We were there for one reason to begin a project which would one day see a 1910 Goldie Corliss steam engine operating once again under its own steam.

Built in Galt in 1910, the engine had been moved to the Township in the '40s. It found its way to the museum early in the '70s and had lain in pieces behind the museum. Large parts of the wheel were scattered about; small parts were still in crates.

1987. Eighteen doubtful people, plus one (Owen Bosma) who was convinced, met with industrial consultant David Rollinson. By meeting's end, a unanimous committee believed not only that the seemingly impossible task could be done, but that it could be completed by June 1988, the museum's 20th anniversary.

More meetings took place. The group gathered to survey the rusting ruin. Plans were drawn, decisions made, and funds raised. Heavy equipment was set in motion, gangs of men were pressed into service. A foundation to support the engine was poured, made possible by the donation of 45 cubic yards of concrete by a local company, Lake Ontario Cement. Ten men from the Ameliasburgh Volunteer Fire Department set up the engine. After they lowered the first half of the flywheel into the wheel pit, the men placed the crankshaft into position and joined the top and bottom halves of the wheel together. Many volunteer hours were spent cleaning, painting and attending to all the details needed to make the engine bright and shiny again.

To the satisfaction of the local community, the engine's majestically rotating flywheel was a highlight of the museum's twentieth anniversary celebration on June 26, 1988.

The need for a building to protect the engine and provide a suitable environment for the public to view it became the next goal to achieve. A local construction firm prepared and donated the plans for the building. This ambitious community project cost in excess of $50,000. The government helped with a portion of the funds. Most of the money and materials were acquired by the steam engine committee. In 1989 a specially designed engine house was constructed to house the steam engine. Although the wheel was turning, the committee then began its search for an appropriate steam boiler so that the Goldie McCulloch engine could operate as it was designed. In Valley field, Quebec, the committee found a 42 inch by 100 inch vertical steam powered tube boiler. The boiler was moved to the site, approved, and set up in the engine house. The present project underway is to install the fixtures and plumbing required to connect the engine and boiler, so that our engine will soon be steam powered.