12157 McKinley Rd. Montrose, Michigan
Here is a story that will give you the bet a lot of you will
want to go up and feeling of a friend being executed. I’ll dig
her out. Ed.
In the spring or early summer of 1923 road building business was
booming. Three of my uncles, Simon Westfall, Rollin Payne and
‘Joseph Westfall, contracted to build two miles of gravel road
for Gennessee County. They formed a company to be known as
Westfall, Payne and Westfall.
Being unable to obtain gravel for this road from the then
producing pits they decided to open a pit on the banks of the Flint
River where gravel had been taken out some years before hand. As
the vein went down below the water level they decided the best way
to work it was a sand sucker. A pump, pipe, etc., was purchased.
Then the problem of power came to the front. The Port Huron Engine
and Thresher Company was contacted and the new company was informed
that a steam traction engine with enough power for the pump was in
the neighborhood. It was owned by one Joseph Lavuck for threshing.
The engine was a 25 or 26 HP. and developed something like ninety
horsepower in the belt. (As I am told now it was a 32 hp. with a
10×10 bore and stroke simple engine with a piston valve).
I was eleven years old at this time. I will never forget that
engine coming down the road. It had to pass where we lived on its
way to the pit. It was late in the evening and starting to get
dark. I never knew a steam engine could go so fast. It came roaring
down the road, smoke and fire belching from its stack. I ran out of
the yard and along side of it as it went by the gate and I really
had to run to keep up with it. As I found out later engineer Lavich
had the governor belt off and was giving the engine all the
throttle he thought it would stand so he could get to the pit
The engine was put to work pumping soon after its arrival. On a
clear day or when the wind was right you could hear the exhaust
where we lived about one and a half miles away.
Westfall, Payne and Westfall operated this pit using this engine
until about 1926 when, two of the partners sold out to a man named
Leach. A new company, Westfall and Leach took over. They still used
this engine. About 1928 the other Westfall sold out to Leach.
Sometime during the year 1929 Engineer Leach decided steam was
too slow and electricity was what he needed to operate his pit.. So
the old Port Huron was run to the place where it now stands under
its own power.
Carelessness on some ones part caused a sand shot to be set so
the sand and Water ran over the place where the engine stood so by
the end of the season the sand had filled in up to the bottom of
the boiler waist.
Electric power proved to be too expensive but by then it did not
make much difference as the depression was with us and Leach lost
Then another outfit took over with a dragline throwing their
waste in piles along side the engine. As these piles grew soon the
engine was completely covered where it rested until sometime during
World War II when somebody with hand shovels dug the sand away
about like you see it in the picture. By that time they were
convinced it was a hopeless task so it was abandoned and there the
engine still rests.