We thank Ed Schuknecht, Editor of The Port Washington Pilot newspaper for permission to reprint the following story and pictures. This was sent to us through the courtesy of Alvin Schmitt, 504 W. Chestnut Street, Port Washington, Wisconsin 53074.
Bill Wellenstein who lives at 100 Main St., Belgium, Wis., became interested in steam engines at an early age. At 15 he went clover threshing with his dad who had a 16 hp Russell engine. Bill was the engineer one season while his dad took care of the thresher.
Bill liked everything about threshing except crawling out of the sack before daylight the grass would be moist from the dew in the late season and sometimes even had frost.
The first chore was opening the smoke box door and cleaning flues, grating down the ashes and scraping out dead cinders.
After checking the boiler water, a good hot fire would be kindled. Not long after the smoke thickened and the fire got hotter, you could hear the pleasant sound of the water in the boiler sizzle most relaxing moment in the day of an engineer. The next sign of life would come from the farmhouse kitchen where smoke from the kitchen chimney signaled the start of the day's cooking.
The rattling of the milk buckets and cans could be heard, then the farmer with lit lantern and milking equipment would head for the barn. Sometimes a youngster would be coming to see the big monster engine belching out smoke and steam, usually watching from a distance at first.
Bill, being a youngster too, would play tricks on him by opening up the blow-off valve which is as loud as a whistle. The boy would take off like a scared jack rabbit.
Bill retired several years ago and since then he has put his collection in like-new condition. He would like very much to own a steam car which he has been looking for but has not yet found one.