Bill Lamb's REMINISCENCES


| July/August 1994



Gaar-Scott

This Gaar-Scott was featured on the front cover of July/August 1992s Iron Men Album.

735 Riddle Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45220

This article, 'Bill Lamb's Reminiscences,' has a story behind it. I met Bill, now 85 years old, at the Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Show in Georgetown, Ohio, this summer. When he learned my name, he recognized that I had written the Reeves feature which appeared in The Iron-Men Album's July/August issue, 1993. He invited me to Lexington, Kentucky, to interview him for an article based on his experiences with steam engines. Bill has an enviable wealth of knowledge and anecdotes concerning steam power, and I have attempted to incorporate many of his ideas and memories in the following essay.

Now to the story:

The words 'Steamboat Pilot' make us think of Mark Twain. In the same way, the words 'Steam Engineer' bring to mind William M. Lamb of Nicholasville, Kentucky. Give Bill a white suit and a cigar, and he could pass for the author of Tom Sawyer. Bill has the same glint in his eye and Twain's knack for telling a true story with enough salt to preserve it for future reference.

'Never put a price on it!' says Bill, his hand tracing the exclamation point on the air. 'I knew a fellow who had an engine. Now, he didn't want to sell that engine. He loved that engine! But along came a man to buy it. Figuring he could scare this man off, the fellow set what he thought was a high price, but the man said he'd pay it. Then the fellow confessed he didn't want to sell his engine. This man, though, had friends with him, and he said, 'I have witnesses. They heard you name your price, and they heard me agree to pay.' The fellow felt he had no choice but to sell. He was a man of honor. And he lost his engine to keep his integrity. Never put a price on it!'

When I have talked with Bill about his considerable knowledge of steam engines, he has worn Liberty overalls not a white suit. The overalls recall his years as the engineer for an agricultural traction engine near Lexington, Kentucky. He also has worn a cap recalling his distinguished military career. Retired out a First Sergeant in the Army, Bill saw action in the European Theater in World War II in the Fifth Armored Division and served with a Combat Engineer outfit in Korea in 1952 and 1953; but it was back on the 4th of February in the year 1930 that he was sworn into the Army. He was twenty-one years of age and would turn twenty-two in July. For one so young, Bill already had knowledge of steam power greater than anyone had the right to expect. Born in Athens, near Lexington, Bill had apprenticed on locomotives of the Southern Railway.