Women at the Throttle

Bill Lamb

Bill Lamb takes a moment to recall outstanding women engineers.

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3982 Ballard Avenue Cincinnati, Ohio 45209-1716

When Bill Lamb in Lexington, Kentucky, saw my essay on Doris Lindenmier, he wanted to compliment the women engineers he has known. In an earlier article, Bill named excellent engineers who were men, and now, in this piece, he identifies excellent engineers who were women.

I drew the pen-and-ink sketch to accompany Bill's article. It shows a younger Bill at the throttle of a Gaar-Scott engine. Bill is now eighty-eight years old and still looks very much like my drawing, except that his hair is gray.

In his visits to steam shows around the country, Bill Lamb has observed expert engineers who were women. 'I'd like to mention them in the Album because people might make the mistake of thinking only men run engines or that only a man can run an engine,' Bill said.

'Erna Wright had a Baker engine,' Bill recalled. 'She brought it to Big Jim Whitbey's show in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She could belt it up as well as anybody. It looked like she and the engine knew one another.'

'Mildred Ary,' Bill continues, 'had a Gaar-Scott single cylinder. It looked like she and the engine talked to one another. She could balance it on the teeter-totter. She showed me how little I knew about engines.'

'Pat Holcamp at Mount Pleasant knew everything there was to know about threshing rigs. She could feed the bundles or run the engine equally well. There in Iowa, the Hoffmaster sisters, Anne and Joyce, had a Reeves. They were good with engines both of them were excellent engineers.' Bill remembered the meticulous care which the Hoffmasters gave their engine.

'A man by the name of Bailey,' Bill continued, 'had a Baker I rebuilt for him in northern Kentucky. He kept it on John Vogel's farm. Tina Irwin, Vogel's granddaughter, said she would help me if I would show her how to run an engine. It turned out she was real good as an engineer. She and I used to go to Danville, Kentucky, to run a Case 65. I'd say Tina is as fine an engineer as I've seen.'

'Carrie Farmer at Greenville, Ohio, knew what to do with a throttle,' said Bill. 'I was firing a locomotive at Connersville, Indiana, one time, and a man volunteered to help me. We got to talking, and I asked him if he had a daughter named Carrie. Sure enough, he did! She had a good teacher.'

Bill added, 'I taught Marianne Leicty how to run engines. She was a good learner.'

'The women engineers I've named are just those I've taught or seen at shows,' Bill concluded, 'but there have been plenty of great engineers who were women.'