| January/February 1966

Route 3, Sterling, Illinois

As a small boy we lived on a farm on the Jefferson-Franklin county line in southern Illinois. I cannot remember anything more exciting to a small farm lad than a steam traction engine.

In the early spring of about 1912 or 1913, a salesman from the Russell and Company, Massillon, Ohio came to our house, and my dad placed an order for a factory rebuilt threshing outfit. As the time for delivery drew near I could hardly stand the suspense of waiting for the Railroad Co. to notify us of its arrival, but would walk the 2 miles to town about every other day to see if it had arrived. Finally one day there she was, a wonderful sight in all her splendor high upon the flat car, on the rail siding. A big Port Huron, 22 hp, double tandem compound, with long fellow boiler. The large head tank mounted in front of the stack. The shiny brass bands around the jacket, the bright red wheels, and mirror finish on the face of the fly wheel. Also, the big red 36 by 56 Russell 'Massillon Cyclone' separator impressing upon a small lad a vivid memory that would last a lifetime.

I regretted to leave but I had to go and tell Dad the good news, so I tried to absorb enough of the view to last until I got home and away I went.

The next day Dad and I, also one of the neighbors, went to town. We had a switch engine spot the car and soon we had a collection of onlookers and volunteer help to carry ties with which to build a ramp for unloading. It fell my lot to unpack the brasses and install them on the engine, which of course made me very happy. After the ramp had been built and the water tank had been taken off so we could get water to fill the boiler, the old sun was swiftly heading for the horizon, so we headed for home with everything in readiness to start unloading early the next morning.

For some reason, I can't remember why now, I could not go the next day to help unload and believe you me it was bitter disappointment.


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