The Underwater Huber Engine

A Huber engine is recovered after being underwater for several decades

Where the Huber engine sat underwater

Where the Huber engine sat underwater.

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2910 Maple Road Manistee, Michigan 49660-9628

I will try and tell the story about the abandoned Huber engine the best I can. Being about the oldest boy, I was always helping my dad to do things. So I was able to hear things told about the Huber. A fellow who lived about three miles from us would stop and visit every so often. He would mention the Huber engine and tell about it when it was being used.

He told us about the Tippy Dam that was built across the river downstream where the Huber was being used. He said people were told to get their stuff out of the area, as it was going to be flooded. This was in 1918. He said the Huber was being driven out, and when it got over the steep part, it broke down where it sat. This was in the 1930s, when I heard him telling about it. I was about eight years old at the time.

Later on, in the 1930s, the fellow stopped by to visit and told my dad he took a drive up to the flooded area, the "pond," as he called it. He said the Huber smokestack was still sticking out of the water, and that he and my dad should go get it out. That was about it from that fellow. He passed on before anything came of it.

In the 1950s I was out on a drive when I went by a fellow's house and saw old iron sitting around. I stopped to talk to the man and found out he knew my parents. As we talked, we got on the subject of steam engines. He told me the story about the Huber being underwater and how and why it was there. His story was the same as I heard from the other fellow, only he told me a little more. He said when he was a boy he saw the Huber being used and later on he visited the area just before it was flooded.

He said the last time he saw it on dry ground is where it broke down. If I recall, he also said they tried to pull it with horses, but could not. So that is where it sat until it was removed in 1959, when the dam was lowered for repair.

The fellow and I went for a ride one day and he showed me where he was pretty sure the engine sat underwater. As the smokestack was gone by then,but it was right where the fellow told me. The best I can do on the Huber story, as I mentioned, is that it sat underwater from 1918 to 1959. After it was out and on display in Wellington, Michigan, for awhile, it was then sent to Cole Brothers in Traverse City, Michigan, a John Deere dealer. Next in 1969, it went to Tom Graham of East Jordan, Michigan. Charlie Volkening got it about 1993 and had it at the Buckley, Michigan Engine Show in 1994. Charlie said he and his dad, Wilbur, restored it.

Charlie also told me it was in IMA once before. I have not seen the story, as I was not getting IMA at that time. (I only started to get IMA after we got our 1920 19-65 Port Huron steam engine.) I may be the only one left who could tell you about the Huber, as I heard and was told by two different fellows who saw it when it ran and were around, before it was abandoned.

The fellows since have passed on. I wanted to get this out before the information was lost forever.

By the way, the part I saw broken, a small part left was the connecting rod on the piston shaft.

When I talked to the fellow who pulled it out of the water the day I saw it, and I took the pictures, he said he broke about, I thought he said, $600.00 worth of cable. At one time it was tipped almost on its side as it sank in the mud. He also said they had to remove pinion gears so wheels would turn. He said at one point, when pulling it out, it tipped. He was about to abandon it, when it finally up-righted and came out. This was what the fellow told me at the site where it was when I first saw it.

I am glad I was able to see the Huber out of its watery grave (especially since I had been hearing about since I was a boy), and also to get to see it restored and running. (A great job, Charlie Volkening!)

I have finally found my pictures and negatives to have pictures made of where it went after being pulled out and the final pictures after restoration.

I hope you all enjoy this as the only other people that knew about it would say, "Yes, I heard about it being there but did not know anything about it."

If anyone has a different story, I'll stand corrected.