Another 'Rescue' of Old Iron

| July/August 1992

Box 2256, Bracebridge, Ontario P1L 1W4

Muskoka Pioneer Power Association in Bracebridge, Ontario heard that an abandoned sawmill in the Rankin area (near Pembroke) still had a steam engine inside. The mill had closed operations about 1963 and the building had collapsed. The owner was contacted and indicated the property was to be sold and that he had considered selling the engine for scrap.

In the Spring of 1991, four club members journeyed to Rankin and had a look at the engine to determine if it was feasible to buy, and whether they could get it out of the collapsed mill. The engine was seized, as the men were unable to turn the flywheel at all, but they came home enthused. They were full of ideas for the engine and had a plan for removal. An offer to purchase was made to the owner, and accepted.

Now the challenge to remove the engine and transport it to its new home. A fund was set up and before you could 'blink', over $500 was contributed. As is usual with these challenges, all kinds of 'advice' and 'should do's' were offered.

A second trip to the site was arranged in early July to strip the engine and develop a final plan for removal. The building held many interesting artifacts, and a family of raccoons. The old mill had a 'ghostly aura' and the men had no difficulty imagining what it must have been like in its 'hey-day'.

The third trip came in the Fall of 1991. This time winches, ropes, a 'Bobcat' crawler, several men, a heavy trailer and a video camera were canvassed from the membership, and this time it was a weekend jaunt. On Saturday, the men secured the building and cleared a path through the rubble, in order to winch the 4500 lb. engine on roller ramps to the waiting trailer. This was accomplished slowly and carefully. When it was safely loaded, the men couldn't resist trying once again to turn the flywheel, but to no avail.