Upon entering the Ternings Steam and Gas Engine Show one was greeted with an awesome looking structure looming high into the air. It strongly resembled a bridge that someone started and forgot to finish.
However, as the day progressed, the announcer Mr. Jim Thomas of Grafford, Texas, began giving bits and pieces of information out concerning the structure. It soon became evident that this structure was to become one of the main highlights of the entire show. As Mr. Thomas explained, ‘This case wooden incline or case ramp you see at this show today is the only one known to exist. Very few people have ever attempted to climb one of these ramps with a full sized steam engine.’ For the benefit of those thousands in attendance who were not too familiar with a steam engine he further explained, ‘there are no brakes on a steam engine such as you are familiar with on your car. There are no sides on the ramp or the platform.’
There were several people at the show who, in years past, had climbed the incline similar to this one. However, it was rumored that their wives would no longer permit it!! It seems that wives get all the blame for everything these days. Whatever the truth was, it soon became quite evident that Tom Terning and his 40 HP Case traction engine were to be the only challengers for this event. By the way, Tom’s wife was not available for comments!
Tom’s son, Aaron, plus several of his friends, Doug and Dan Base, and Frank Harper, assisted in getting the incline ready for the climb. The engine was being held in readiness by Tom’s assistant, Joe Mitchem. Just the right amount of fire, steam pressure, and water had to be strictly adhered to. The governor belt was removed and up the incline it went. About half-way up, the massive machine appeared to hesitate. With the controls being maneuvered just so, the front wheels came clearly off the ramp. The crowd became very quiet and all appeared to move back a bit. With a slight lurch, the engine progressed up the ramp and came to a halt on the platform. A short tug on the whistle announced his victory. With more maneuvering, the engine was backed off the ramp. The spectators cheered and many came over to question Tom concerning his climb to victory.
Not far from the ramp another magnificent structure was pulling the eight bottom plow as if it were a toy. Mr. ‘Avery’ Sullivan was skillfully mastering the 120 HP Avery steam traction engine up and down the field. His able bodied assistant, Mr. Hardy Wunsch of Goddard, Kansas, was close at hand. As the announcement was being made that the fast races were about to begin, the Avery turned toward the race track. Some snickers were heard and comments such as ‘I wonder if they have it confused with the slow race,’ or ‘Oh well, someone has to come in last.’ These comments did not appear to dampen the spirits of the two engineers. They took their place in the line-up waiting for the signal. When the signal was finally given, the only thing one could see was a lot of black smoke!! A voice could be heard thru the smoke and noise it was believed to be that of Hardy saying, ‘Pour the cobs to herpour the cobs to her!’ Whether that was the inspiration for the Avery to surge ahead one can only guess. When the smoke was beginning to clear, it was clearly evident who had won the race. There sat the Avery at the finish line waiting for the Reeves, the Frick, the Huber, the Nichols, and a few others who were too far behind to distinguish, to cross the finish line. The two engineers had broad grins. In fact, some people even said that if you looked closely, the Avery appeared to be smiling also!! The Avery did not enter the fast race any of the remaining days Mr. Sullivan said he wanted to give others a chance. The Avery continued to plow and pull the Baker fan plus thresh a little wheat to stay in shape. Dale Miner of Fairfield, Ohio also assisted with the Avery.
Avery 120 HP owned by Tom and Aaron Terning of Valley Center, Kansas. The engine is being operated by Mr. ‘Avery’ Sullivan of Wichita, Kansas.
Vaden Stroud of Hutchinson, Kansas was giving rides in a vehicle that boasted of being one of its kind in the United States (See back cover of July/August 1983 issue of IMA). It was a Foden steam truck from England. This truck looked like a majestic monarch moving about the grounds. The Foden belongs to James Leake of Muskogee, Oklahoma.
The many fine models and gas engines attracted many onlookers. Many hours of labor and love had clearly gone into the building and or restoration of the models and engines.
The sawmill was once again in full operation. The master sawyer, Reynold Terning of Cokato, Minnesota was there guiding each log through.
If your legs desired a rest you could hitch a ride on the stage-coach furnished by John Hoogoboom of El Dorado, Kansas. His beautiful team of horses responded to each command with perfection.
The Ark Valley Short Line Steam train was offering rides for the young and young at heart. Wagons were provided to transport people from the parking area to the show. The wagons were being pulled by antique tractors and steam engines. Guided tours were given from the wagons throughout the day to explain in more detail the engines at the show.
Three wheat stacks and several separators gave each and every engine an opportunity to thresh if they so desired.
Many fine antique carts and tractors were dotting the grounds under the watchful eye of their owners.
Crafts from as far away as Montana and Minnesota were located in several of the buildings. A handmade quilt was given away the last day of the show. The lucky winner was from Hutchinson, Kansas. It was quite a coincidence since the person who hand-crafted the quilt was Karen Olson of Hutchinson, Minnesota. Small world.
Taking some stone ground wheat or corn meal home was one way to bake some memories at a later date. Several grist mills were in operation. A peanut roaster was on hand to handle a bad case of the munchies.
If one arrived early enough you could feast in Grandma’s Kitchen. Her mouth watering breakfast consisted of pancakes, sausage, coffee, and juice. ‘Grandma Terning’ of Fortine, Montana handled this undertaking. After the breakfast hut closed she could be seen flipping those succulent hamburgers. Funnel cakes, homemade ice cream, and drinks of all kinds assured everyone of something to satisfy their appetites.
Saturday evening was a special treat for the exhibitors. Lloyd Olson of Hutchinson, Minnesota, expertly cooked several hogs for the evening’s feast. Home grown sweet corn, baked beans, bread, drinks, and desserts of all kinds seemed to quiet even the loudest of growling stomachs.
After the meal Mr. Thomas again returned to the speaker’s stand to announce that everyone was to gather around. Now what did he have in mind?? It seems that Karen had not only made one but indeed had made two quilts. She gave one to Tom and Lois what a beautiful thing it was.
To list the people who helped make this show a success would be an impossible task. Friends, family, and community put many hours of their time into preparation. We want to thank each and every one of you. We do so appreciate your efforts.
Remember the sixth annual Terning Steam and Gas Engine Show will again be held over the Labor Day weekend. The dates are September 2-3-4 & 5, 1983. There is free camping available to those who desire it. All exhibitors are most welcome. Come early to obtain a good spot. For more information merely con tact the Ternings