A Cracker jack Steam Engineer


| September/October 1993



Steam engine

Carl and the old Buffalo Pitts double cylinder steam engine, about 1910-1912.

1745 Redwood Road Kirkman, Iowa 51447

This story is dedicated to my dad, Carl Mickelson (August 14, 1881-Julyl3,1964), 'The Cracker jack.'

This is the story of how my dad, Carl Mickelson, acquired steam in his blood and became known throughout Shelby County, Iowa, as a cracker-jack steam engineer.

A Love of Steam Is Born

Dad was born August 14, 1881, in Avoca, Iowa, the only child of Marius and Olina Mickelson.

He became interested in steam engines at an early age. When he was still a small boy, his mother would send him to the butcher shop to buy meat (usually about 25 cents worth of steak was plenty). The butcher shop used a little steam engine for power to run the sausage grinder and a steam boiler to heat water for rendering lard. He watched fascinated as the machines worked.

In 1886 his parents purchased a farm in Shelby County, Iowa, between Kirkman and Irwin. This farm, located on a green ridge, became known as the Greenridge Farm. This is where Dad grew up.