A Firefighter's Steamer

Part One: The Saga of Case No. 26701

| March 2007

  • TheCase75HPEngine-1.jpg
    Left: Surrounded by other treasures, the Case appeared mostly complete. However, it required much more work and funds than first anticipated.
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    Far left: The Case 75 HP engine in George Miller’s yard. This engine spent its life powering a sawmill, so the second belt pulley ran the carriage that moved wood through the saw.
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    The 75 HP Case with purchased and rebuilt fuel and water bunkers.
  • TheEnginearrivesinOregon.jpg
    The engine arrives in Oregon.
  • GeorgeandJosephBerto.jpg
    Left: George and Joseph Berto are all smiles as they look toward the re-awakening of this Case 75 HP.
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    Below: Forlornly sitting in the snow, the engine seemed a long way from making steam again.
  • GeorgePointsOut.jpg
    George points out the features of the engine, as he gives it a final look before it leaves his property.

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  • TheCase75HPEngine.jpg
  • The75HPCase.jpg
  • TheEnginearrivesinOregon.jpg
  • GeorgeandJosephBerto.jpg
  • GeorgeandJosephBerto-1.jpg
  • GeorgePointsOut.jpg

With any piece of equipment this old there is bound to be an account on how it survived. Many times we remark, "If only this engine could talk, imagine the tales it could tell."

Fortunately, the history of this steamer can be told, for in its life it has only had four owners. For the past 45 years, it was owned and cared for by George Miller.

When George agreed to sell it to me I visited him, along with my father, to hear his story. My dad wrote down this tale and I'm fortunate to have it to share with you.

If you ever visited Absarokee, Mont., you may have noticed this steamer tucked back into the corner of George's yard. George says there had been a steady stream of visitors to the engine over the years. Although he planned to operate it again, the years just seemed to slip by, and when he turned 92 he decided it was finally time to sell it. I'm grateful he decided to sell it to me.



The Saga of Case Engine No. 26701

According to George, this steam engine was built in 1912. It is a 75 HP, single-cylinder, double-acting steam engine.

It was shipped by rail to the J.I. Case dealer in Billings, Mont. The dealer did not sell it immediately, so he leased it for plowing and threshing in the fall of 1912. It pulled a 12-bottom plow with the plows spaced 14 inches apart, plowing a 16-foot-wide swath.

Marianne
8/4/2012 2:21:43 PM

I really enjoyed your story. Very few would have taken on that labor of love. Only 2 years! I suspect this would still be a restoration project for most. I'm so happy you didn't re paint it, it's got so much charater. You know it's 100th birthday this year. You should celebrate and be very proud of yourself for bring this awesome steamer back to life.