50 Years of Steam Threshing

The urge for steam threshing rolls from family to friends.

| September 2005

It started one May morning in 1956 when my dad asked, "Do you want to go back and fill the engine with water?" He was referring to his 1909 Case that my grandfather had bought new for threshing and sawmilling. It sat back in the woods beside the sawmill and hadn't been run since the year I was born. At 14, I had never seen it fired up, although, all the while I grew up I had played on it and ran it many days in my imagination.

Needless to say, he didn't have to ask twice, and before noon we had it full of water; we couldn't fire it of course, as it needed piping. The platform was rotted off, the ash pan was gone, etc. One of our ugly bulls had smashed the side steps off and there wasn't any paint showing, but I was as excited as if it were a new one.

It was kept in the woods during World War II to keep it safe from scrap dealers. I remember a junk man coming to the house and offering to buy it, but after a brief discussion with my father leaving with the knowledge that it wasn't for sale and never would be.

The day finally came when we could fire it up - what a thrill! We ran it home and parked it in the yard where we spent the rest of the summer working on it any time we could spare.

We always threshed our own grain using our Hart-Parr tractor, but sometime that summer the belt pulley broke - that was okay as Dad decided we would use the Case for power, and that is how our first "Steam Threshing Day" started.

We stacked our oats that year, and one sunny Saturday in September we had our first day. Friends and neighbors came to help, and best of all, although he hadn't steam-threshed since 1926, some of Dad's former customers were still living and were very glad to see us doing it the old way again. Interest was so great that we decided to repeat the day again the next year and it became an annual event. We never advertised or tried to make it into a show, it continued to be just a small gathering on our farm.