YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU MAY FIND

Reeves 32 HP compound

A Reeves 32 HP compound, serial number of which was lost when the smoke box door was stolen, but it is either a 1904 or a 1905 engine.

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Ste 101 at Edmonton St., Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

It was with a great deal of satisfaction that I learned in the early nineteen fifties of others becoming interested in the old time steam traction engines as prior to that time I had failed to find anybody with much interest in these machines, and, worse that that, any time I would expose my enthusiasm to others they would usually end up whispering among themselves something to the effect that they would have to have me put away.

After passing through the depression in Western Canada and being on the train dispatcher's spare board for nineteen years (most of which time was really 'spare') there was not too much idle money available to buy steam engines. There was plenty of engines to have dealt with but, most of which are now totally extinct and if here, would be priceless. So we all make mistakes! I should have bought what I then could and taken the chance of being confined. How nice to have you all asking permission to view these specimens!

This was found by myself, as a result of 'engine' rumors. It was in 1964 located on Lac Seul about 50 miles northwest of Sioux Lookout, Ontario. Was brought out to the Canadian National Railways, 45 miles, the following summer by barge, freighted to Dugald, Manitoba where this picture was taken alongside the same railway while under steam. Picture was by the Free Press staff photographer. Looks as if some person was calling to me from the highway when picture was taken.

Well this engine business saturated me from childhood and the report of an engine in some fence corner was always worth a trip to go and have a visit with it and this has covered a good deal of western Canada and the north central states. To hear a rumor of an engine and do nothing about it, at this late stage, would be a crime. One never knows what you may find. You can seldom know for certain what the article may be or what condition it may be in by reports you may receive. The only way to be sure is go and check. The miracle could happen and there may still be the odd precious engine forgotten or neglected or not yet discovered. It could happen but probably may not.

For a few years and while I was still employed, I had been told by two per sons about a steam engine away back in the bush on Lac Seul. That is a part of the English River watershed and is utter wilderness. One of these persons told me he thought the engine was a 'Case' so with that, and since he should have known, I was in no hurry to investigate but on my return from the Dalton engine show in 1964 decided here is my chance to check into that rumor. So, I went to Sioux Lookout and by good fortune ran into an old friend Finlander who used to fish commercially up on that lake over thirty years ago. After I told him what I had come down for he shortly remembered that he somewhere had a picture of the engine in doubt. When he found the picture I could scarcely believe my eyes.....a Case... . No, a 32 Reeves.

Now I hired out with the railway at Sioux Lookout in 1918 and knew the surrounding country pretty well but I had never known a steamer to be taken in north at any time. Of course during the Red Lake mining days the tonnage moving in was beyond all imagination and the old Reeves became involved. I am quite sure that this would be the only Reeves steamer to ever have been used in Ontario, certainly the only big one. I was disappointed when the Ontario club was not enthusiastic in taking it as an exhibit. They will never get a similar chance and no other engine made can compare with a Reeves, which I know is a strong statement. And all efforts to ascertain her history have been in vain. Nobody has any idea where it came from etc.

Well finding the picture of the Reeves really built-a-fire with the result that next day we went by boat to look her over. The boiler checked good. Most everything that could be removed, had been taken away, and some parts broken on the rocks underfoot, still there was a 32 Reeves right there looking at us, what else mattered???? Her gearing looked like new but it turned out the differential sleeve was rusted to that shaft; impossible to loosen. Next summer we went in with a list of the necessary fittings and had her running the second afternoon, turned her around, backed up to barge approach, ready to load when a barge became available some months later. Moved to Hudson 45 miles by barge, then 225 miles west to Dugald Manitoba by Can Nat'l Rlys, then to the fair grounds where the accompanying picture was taken, and which shows the wig-wag signals for the highway crossing, also the Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) signals overhead. Probably part of why I felt so at home in this location, other than because of the Reeves, was that it is a part of my 'home' territory, over which 1 have dispatched thousands of trains by mores and telephone many years ago.