1920 20-60 HP Illinois Steam Traction Engine

Family of engines includes 1920 Illinois steam traction engine

| January/February 2000

  • illinois steam engine
    View of the steam tractor engine, on parade and operated by Willie Boettcher.
  • Steam tractor
    This 1920 Illinois steam tractor, 20-60 HP, is owned by Wyman Boettcher of Chilton, Wisconsin. That's him in the photo below, in the straw hat and bib overalls. The picture was taken on the second weekend after Labor Day 1998 at Calumetville, Wisconsin.
  • Engine
    Illustration of an engine from an Illinois Thresher Company catalog.

  • illinois steam engine
  • Steam tractor
  • Engine

This 1920 20-60 HP Illinois steam traction engine was built in 1920, in Sycamore, Illinois. A canning company in Valders, Wisconsin, bought it new to use in their mills. From there, wherever it went, I don't know. My family wound up with it. We've had it for about thirty years. We also have a 45 HP Case engine built in 1910.

My dad, Wyman Boettcher from Chilton, Wisconsin, owns it. He has always said only 75 were made and there are only three left, but I believe there are at least four. That's my dad in the photograph, in the straw hat and bibs. This picture was taken the second weekend after Labor Day at Calumetville, Wisconsin. My father's birthday is on March 17, so I hope seeing this steam traction engine on the back cover is a good gift for him.

When I was young I could run this engine by myself at the age of seven. I also carried wood for many years for other steam traction engines at other shows. My dad and I would go to shows around the state. The first thing I would do when we got to the shows was run over by the steamers and ask the engineers if I could climb on and blow the whistle.

I have run Frick, Illinois, Rumely, Reeves and Case engines. I hope to run more. I love to talk to people about steam traction engines, so if you have the time, write a letter and I will respond. It always feels good to hear from a steam engine man. If anyone has old pictures of steam traction engines, may I see them? I will return them.

Also, if anyone knows the right color for the engine, please let me know. I do hope to hear from some of the steam engine men.

The engine can be seen on display on the second weekend in August in Chilton, Wisconsin, at the fairgrounds. We hope to see you there!


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