BOYHOOD THRILLS! !

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Courtesy of Mr. W. J. Place, 1602 Weller Ave., La Porte, Indiana 46350. This is a Henshel 24 gauge locomotive owned by John Edris and Jack Keane, La Porte County Threshers Association.
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Courtesy of Mr. W. J. Place, 1602 Weller Ave., La Porte, Indiana 46350. Here is a picture of a 35-120 Nichols & Shepard owned by John Edris and Don Schwenk, La Porte County Threshers Association.
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Courtesy of Mr. W. J. Place, 1602 Weller Ave, La Porte, Indiana 46350. Here is a 20-60 M. Rumely owned by John Schwenk and a 40-120 Avery owned by John Edris and Don Schwenk, La Porte County Threshers Asso.
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Courtesy of Mr. W. J. Place, 1602 Weller Ave, La Porte, Indiana 46350. Here is a picture of my 19-65 Port Huron taken at the La Porte County Threshers Association show.
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Courtesy of Mr. W. J. Place, 1602 Welter Ave., La Porte, Indiana 46350. This is a Browning Steam Crane which weighs 92 tons and has a lifting capacity of 52,000 lbs. It is owned by the La Porte County Threshers Asso.

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.

However, each Saturday morning my buddy and I (his dad was
separator man) would take off to find the rig. We knew the general
direction of the run so would keep our eyes peeled for smoke in the
distance, or watch the roads for Port Huron tracks.

I will never forget one time when we were crossing a field, I
stepped in-to a nest of yellow jackets. I soon had a swollen ankle.
My buddy tried to carry me on his back but I was about as big as he
was, so I had to hobble along until we got to the machine.
Afterwards, the swelling soon went down.

I can remember an incident of one really hot day in July the
pitchers made it up to try to slug the separator. I suppose it was
to get a rest while the machine was being unchoked. Now this engine
was equipped with another throttle whereby all 4 cylinders would be
simple (similar to the intercepting valve on the cross compound
Reeves) and as long as the boiler could furnish the steam something
was going to move. It wasn’t but a short while until the
pitchers began reaching for their bandanas and wiping sweat and
made for the nearest shade tree.

One year a fellow with a little star engine took the contract to
grade the road from the town of Sesser to the Keller Mines, but he
could not pull the grader so he made a deal with Dad to use the
Port Huron to grade and he would pull the Russell separator. It was
during this grading, the countershaft broke and we had a new one
made at the Mt. Vernon Car Mfg. Co.

The story is that the people who bought this rig from my dad did
not know much about engines. So one morning they started a fire,
but most of the smoke came out the fire box door. Finally they
decided that the wind was in the wrong direction. So they got a
rope and turned it around by winding a rope around the fly wheel,
but to no avail. Finally someone who had run engines happened
along. He asked them if they had cleaned the flues. They said no,
and they didn’t know they were supposed to. He looked at the
flues and they were nearly clogged up with soot.

I do not know what ever became of this engine, probably
junked.

I wonder of anyone knows if there is still a Port Huron Double
in existence in Ill. as I would like to have a good picture of
one.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment