As planning for the 2017 North Missouri Steam & Gas Engine Assn. in Hamilton began gearing up last fall, the stars fell into perfect alignment. Located at a singular position in space and time (is that the Star Trek theme I’m hearing?), the North Missouri show is square in the path of a total eclipse of the sun expected to occur just hours after the show was scheduled to end on Aug. 20.
A total solar eclipse — when the moon’s apparent diameter is larger than the sun, thereby blocking all direct sunlight, turning day into darkness — will occur on Aug. 21. The eclipse will be visible from a 70-mile-wide corridor stretching about 2,500 miles diagonally from west to east.
Spanning coast to coast, the August eclipse begins in Oregon and crosses through portions of Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina before ending in South Carolina.
The folks at the North Missouri show know a good thing when they see it. “Mother Nature kind of dumped this in our lap,” says club member Kendall Morgan. “Our show is Aug. 18-20, and the eclipse is the next day, so we decided to run the show an extra day.”
To commemorate the event, a special display will feature a Frick Eclipse steam engine and an Eclipse gas engine built by Fairbanks-Morse. Nearly a dozen steam engines will be used in sawing, threshing and baling demonstrations, and camping is available at the grounds (advance registration recommended).
Although eclipses today are widely noted, they leave relatively little mark on contemporary culture. Hundreds of years ago, it was a different story. In the late 1800s, the Eclipse moniker was applied to countless agricultural products, including windmills, corn shellers, hay presses, cane mills, corn planters, cultivators, disc harrows, fanning mills, feed grinders, fertilizer spreaders, seeders, hammer mills, hay rakes and stackers, horse powers, incubators, manure spreaders, plows, potato machinery, sawmills, sprayers, stump pullers and wagons.
The August eclipse will be the first with a path of totality crossing America’s Pacific and Atlantic coasts since 1918. Also, its path of totality makes landfall exclusively within the U.S., making it the first such eclipse since the country’s independence in 1776. Catch it if you can! FC
Leslie C. McManus
P.S. Headed to the Tri-State Gas Engine & Tractor Assn. show in Portland next month? Be sure to stop by the Farm Collector/Gas Engine Magazine tent and say hello to our representatives there, Bob and Linda Crowell!