A Trip To Montana

| September/October 1995

Box 92 Portersville, Pennsylvania 16051

The author engineers Austin Monk's 40x120 HP Peer less at the Barnes Steam and Power Show. This engine pulled the 20 bottom plow almost effortlessly on 150 lbs. of steam. Behind is a 22 HP Minneapolis owned by the Barnes family, pulling a 6 or an 8 bottom Avery plow, Ward Barnes engineer.

Every steam engine buff can recall their most memorable trips to look at engines or their favorite shows. In August of 1994, I took one of those most memorable trips to Montana.

I left home on the 20th and first stopped at the Dover, Ohio, steam show, which is always a good one. Then on Sunday night, I embarked on a 1,160 mile journey to the 'Big Sky' state. My first stop was in Billings, where I visited Oscar Cooke's Dreamland. There are not too many places where you can see a 110 HP Daniel Best engine! There are many rare and unusual tractors and machinery at Oscar's. After an enjoyable day there, I got a room for the night and set out for Yellowstone National Park the next day. I must say that Montana has the most beautiful mountains, forests and scenery that I have ever seen in my life. I didn't realize there are over 350 miles of road and 1,000 miles of hiking trails in Yellowstone! I drove through 125 miles and saw much wildlife, including elk, American bison, mule deer, and pronghorns. Regretfully, I turned around and headed for Belgrade which was the main reason for the trip in the first place. I arrived that evening on the 25th and was greeted by Virginia Barnes whose entire family puts on the Barnes Steam and Power Show. I also met my friend Gary Yaeger whom I met for the first time at the 50th N. T. A. Reunion in Wauseon, Ohio. After a good night's rest, the show began on the 26th. That morning I met Austin Monk whom I've known since the Tri-State Historical Steam Show in Finleyville, Pennsylvania, back in 1987.

Austin had told me way back in '87 that I should come to Belgrade, and seven years later I was quite happy to meet him again at 'his' show. Around 10:00 a.m. it was time to plow. Oh boy! This is what I've wanted to see! Austin's 40 x 120 HP Geiser Peerless and a 20-bottom John Deere plow. John Schrock of Mason, Michigan, was the engineer on the first round and Gary Yaeger of Whitefish, Montana, fired the Peerless all eight rounds. The Peerless seemed to pull the 20-14' bottom plow effortlessly on 150 lbs. of steam. Then Sunday afternoon I was the engineer on the Peerless! It was an absolute thrill to plow with this engine that I've wanted to see since I was a 14-year-old boy. Many other steam men got to plow with it, including Dale Richardson, Jim Schrock, Carl and Kim Tuttle, Kenneth Kelley and Michael Yaeger. After I got done plowing, I walked over to Austin and shook his hand and patted him on the shoulder and thanked him over and over again.

Later on that day, Laurie and Lanceine Barnes threw everyone they could find into the water tanks. As I slowly tried to walk away, they got hold of me and threw me in as well! Actually, it was quite nice after a hot, enjoyable day of plowing.


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