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Fort Scott, Kansas

I speak not of the 'Braves' of old
Who roamed the prairies wide; I speak not of the pioneer
Who took hardships in stride,
I speak of a breed of a different cut,
Remote from the fuss and noise, I speak of the men of sweat and skills,
'The Iron Horse Stable Boys.'

They didn't ride the cab with 'Casey'
For reasons well understood;
They were busy behind the wrench and hammer
To make all 'Caseys' look good.
The 'Hoggers' enjoyed their share of fame,
And quite justly I might add, But when they came to the end of their run
Their report quite often, was bad.

'Old 'twelve twenty-one' is ready for the 'heap,'
Just barely chugged up the hill. Better give 'er a new set o' flues
'Cause, if you don't I'll surely spill; I'll take it up with 'The Bull o' the Woods'
He'll take this place apart.'
The boys just answered with a quizzical grin,
'When you're home, what d' ya use for a heart?'

Square up the valves, take up the slack,
Or put stirrups on the seat box;
She wheezes, and snorts, and jerks, and jumps,
Bucks a man right out of his sox.
'Twas often true, of these 'steeds' of blue,
Or black as the case may be,
But rest assured, her ills would be cured,
By the boys in the dungarees.

From the days of the 'diamond smoke-stack'
When her flames were fed on wood,
To the 'complex giant' of the 'forties,'
She was the pride of 'The Brotherhood.'
With equal pride the 'smudged face boys'
Kept pace with her changing needs,
That she may not fail, that 'twin steel trail,'
Which challenged these mighty 'steeds.'
'Tis sad to see, this 'Black Beauty'
To which the country owes so much
Be set aside, in time's swift stride
In museums, and parks, and such;
Took special skills, to cure her ills
And keep her tuned so fine,
So, a cheer, or a tear, for the 'Stable Boys'
Who took her to the end of the line.


The old iron horse, so big and grand, inspired us for so long.
It rode the rail where ships can't sail, and built a nation strong.
It hauled the lumber, ore and grain and people of the nation.
It filled a need and most agreed, 'twas man's finest creation.
It had a little brother, less famous and less known.
The men who built and run it were proudit was their own.
The sturdy men who built them, each thought he had the best.
With the right man at the throttle, they all could stand the test.
They didn't have the glamor; they didn't have the speed.
They didn't share the glory, but they filled a mighty need.
They didn't need a gas truck; they could live right off the land.
The many things they helped to do, were hard to understand.
They toiled with iron muscles that never needed rest.
They ploughed the prarie sod so tough and opened up the west.
They filled the train with golden grain they had helped thresh that day
They turned the mills that sawed the ties on which the high iron lay.
The lumber which they sawed each day, filled many railroad cars.
They worked in sun and wind and rain and by the light of stars.
The other work which they helped do, was all important too.
They filled the silo, shredded corn, distilled the mountain dew.
They shelled the corn; they ground the meal; they cooked molasses fine.
They steamed the soil for tobacco beds and so on down the line.
The men who ran them weren't all great, but all got by somehow.
They kept them running night and day on belt work and the plow.
They rolled the flues and built the fires before the morning light.
They sometimes had to improvise to make her run 'til night.
There is no love without respect and nothing can be done.
The man of iron and the iron man were one and only one.
They did not change much through the years except increase in size.
With stronger gears and few repairs, they still could take the prize.
They seemed so like a living thing, the sounds, the smell, the heat.
The rythmic sound of their exhaust, like a mighty heart that beat.
Then other power came on the scene that offered ease and speed.
Most builders did not modernize; they did not see the need.
The great iron man had reached it's peak in country, farm and town.
The world in haste, with all it's waste, began to turn them down.
A few had sheds, a few had care, but most were left to rust.
Where they had worked they now stood still, and started back to dust.
Within the life of one strong man their glory years had flown.
And so began the slow decline of the greatest power known.
A great war came, the junkies cried 'We need that thing for scrap.'
'We'll melt it into cannon and blow Hitler off the map.'
So many met their fate that way, but there were many still.
Some steamed the soil, a few still threshed, and some still powered the mill.
Once bitten by the lure of steam, no man can ere forget.
Most engineers were growing old, but would not give up yet.
He'd try to keep her running for just another year.
But each one thought alone he cared and that the end was ner.
Museums came and picked the best to stand there in the line.
Then word came 'round about the man who built a model fine.
Then someone here and someone there said 'Let's steam up for fun.
We'll have a picnic dinner and get the threshing done.
We'll saw some logs and if there's time; we'll shred a little corn
We'll show our kids how Grandad worked when they were yet unborn.'
They were amazed how many came and talked of yesterday.
'We'll do much more next year for sure; big shows are on the way.'
If greed and hate come on the scene, again they will decline.
We must not let this happen to such a hobby fine.
If we all try to keep it clean, I am sure it can survive.
New boilers will be built in time to keep the shows alive.
The sounds and smells we love so much will still be yours and mine.
Young engineers will learn the touch and keep them running fine.
If we take our pay in fun and friends and try to make it stay,
The old Iron Man can still survive until the judgment day.

LaFarge, Wis.


1   bilt fire in backyard to heet kittle of rain water.
2  set tubs so smoke won't blow in eyes as wind is pert.
3  shave one hole cake lie soap in bilin water.
4  sort things, make three piles, 1 pile white, 1 pile cullord, 1 pile work britches and rags.
5 stir flour in cold water to smooth, then thin down with bilin water.
6 rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard, then bile. Rub cullord, don't bile, just reach in starch.
7  take white things out of kittle with broomstick handle, then rench, blew and starch.
8 spread tee towels on grass.
9 hang old rags on fence.
10 pore rench water in flour bed.
11  scrub porch with hot soapy water.
12 turn tubs upside down.
13 go put on clean dress, smooth hair with side combs, brew cup of tee, set and rest and rock a spell and count blessins.