Sect.-Treas., Pioneer Engineer Club of Indiana, P.O. Box #44,
Pargon, IN 46166
If you want to take a step back into the past, then you should
have been out to the Conservation Grounds the weekend of August
3rd, 4th, and 5th, 1984. It was a busy one around Rushville! The
steam engine show of the Pioneer Engineers Club of Indiana, (which
was started back in 1948 by Lawrence Porter, Tony Moorman, Ray
Jones, and a few others), held at the Conservation Grounds, east of
town, was bustling with people, engines, tractors, flea markets,
and all sorts of exhibits from days gone by.
We had as many people visit us on Thursday as on Friday, but the
show actually started on Friday, with the Flag Raising Ceremony by
two directors, and with the engines already fired up and ready to
get on the sawmill, Baker Fans, shingle mill, rock crusher, etc.
There was some rain– those who were there felt it was just a dust
settler and things were not stopped for long. Our figures show
there were approximately 11,000 people attending the show.
Our feature engine was Lawrence Porter’s Robinson engine and
he has a complete Robinson outfit with which he does the wheat
threshing all three days with crowds of people standing around
watching and reminiscing.
Our feature tractor was Henry Schrank’s ‘Happy
Farmer’, a rare tractor, and we were pleased to have this
special tractor featured this year.
There were displays of old steam equipment of all sorts, model
steam engines; large steam engines; tractors from days long ago;
sawmill powered by steam, sawing logs of all sizes; blacksmith
shop; cornmeal grinding; broom making; etc. There was a parade of
all moving equipment each day which lasted two hours or longer. We
had a total of 32 steam engines, 201 tractors, 75 or more gas
engines and a number of other exhibits.
Friday evening at 4:00, there was a tractor pull that was
thoroughly enjoyed by all. This consisted of the tractors, 1939 and
older, which were exhibited on the grounds. There were no
prizes–it is all done just for fun.
A Fiddler’s contest on Saturday night which was announced on
the WRCR Radio Station in Rushville, and sponsored by one of our
directors, Russell Coon, was a delight to all and special
fiddling’ music afterwards was enjoyed.
There was a demonstration of silk flower arranging on Friday
afternoon, and a flea market that just wouldn’t quit, for the
Two church services were the Saturday night Catholic service and
a Sunday morning Protestant service.
A prize was given to the oldest person attending on Saturday and
the winner was the young age of 91. A prize also went to the person
traveling the farthest which was a lady from Trinidad. We had
people here from New York, Florida, California, and all the states
close by. Some came in motor homes, trailers, tents, came in their
cars and stayed in motels in town, or just came in for the day.
The era of steam power in the fields has gone, leaving behind a
special legacy of romance and a large and growing group of people
who still thrill to the hiss of a steam engine. Some love it
because they worked with these engines and remember it first-hand,
others love it simply because it’s old fashioned. For others,
there is just a special kind of majesty to a big steam engine under
full power and smoke boiling from the smokestack. It’s a
connection with the past that we can enjoy today, it’s a
history lesson for the children, and it’s worth seeing and nice
to have around Rushville. Next year, the first weekend of August,
it will all start over again, and the crowds will come from all
around and live a few hours in the past.