Rare Engine: the Taylor Dry Steam Engine

A rare engine — the only known dry steam engine — is getting well again in Maryland.

| September 2001

If anyone out there knows of another Taylor dry steam engine — or another American 'dry steam' engine, period — Joe Rogers would like to hear about it. He won't be holding his breath, though. As far as he can tell, it's such a rare engine only one is known to exist.

'I've heard rumors that there's one in the Carolinas somewhere,' he said. 'And just maybe there's one in Paris, France.'

Joe is the caretaker at the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster, Md. He and his grandfather, Bob Frederick of Cockeysville, Md., have spent the past several years restoring the museum's Taylor steam engine as a volunteer project.

Patented in 1875, the engine was built in Westminster by the Taylor Manufacturing Company. The company moved to Chambersburg, Md., in the early 1880s.

'They first opened in 1852 as the Union Agricultural Works,' Joe said. 'They made saw mills, threshing machines, plows, hominy mills. As I understand it, this engine spent its life powering hominy mills. It's called a dry steam engine because the piston is encased in steam.'

Joe said there are still many things they have to learn about the engine though. 'There's a number stamped on the boiler that reads 01-01,' Joe said, 'but we don't know if that's a serial number. I'd love to know more about it.'