Case 65 HP Steam Engine: The Famous Joyland 65 Discovered After 43 Years

Wichita, Kan., park’s engine a unique find

| Winter 2007

I'm going to tell you the story of a lifetime, of a celebrated Case 65 HP steam engine that emerged from hiding on the grounds of the Joyland Amusement Park in Wichita, Kan., after 43 years. Before I do, though, I feel the most important thing I can do is pay tribute to the gentlemen who have provided the lifeblood of our great hobby over the last 65-plus years, since the early days of such greats as Blaker, Monk, Cook, Abel, Woodmansee, McMillan and Rynda.

One such man is the legendary W.C. “Chady” Atteberry, who for almost 77 years has had steam cylinder oil in his blood and a hot coal fire in his eyes. It is solely because of him that this story is possible. Without his watchful eye and keen, watchdog sense of hearing, the engine of many men’s dreams would probably still be in mothballs, waiting patiently for her resurrection. I want to dedicate this story as a living memorial to a man who continues today to keep the passion of the great history of steam in our country alive and well.

First Sightings of a Steam Engine

If you’ve ever known what it feels like to discover something you knew for sure few, if any, people on the planet knew about, you can begin to understand what it was like back in 2003 when I received a phone call from my good friend and steam engine mentor, Chady Atteberry, concerning a Case 65 HP engine.

Backing up a bit further, when I purchased my first steam engine in 1999, a 19 HP Keck-Gonnerman side-mounted single, I had many discussions with Chady about my desire to someday have a good plowing engine, as I had spent many an afternoon at the Pawnee show riding the 8-bottom plow that his 65 Case no. 32724 pulled like a hot knife through butter. I was always amazed at how Chady had kept his engine in top-notch condition for all of the 55-plus years he had owned it. I thought it would be great to own an engine like his, and told him just that.

Though my first love was the little Keck-Gonnerman that could saw huge logs all day long and never get tired, I knew that she would never be a plowing engine, and the prize-winning Winnipeg engines that the J.I. Case Threshing Machine Co. built were no doubt some of the best pulling engines ever manufactured. So I secretly set my sights on adding a Case engine to my collection, not to betray my allegiance to all of the Keck-Gonnerman aficionados I had befriended since that cool fall day at Ivan Burns’ estate sale when the Keck came home to Pawnee.

Back to Chady’s phone call. In the fall of 2003 the steam hobby lost a great historian and collector in the late Harold Ottaway of Wichita, Kan. While at his funeral, Chady happened to recognize a man by the name of Stan Nelson, whom he had remembered seeing with Harold years ago at Joyland Park. The two men struck up a conversation that left them at the cemetery for two hours after the graveside service. Chady just off-hand inquired if Stan happened to know anything about an old 65 that had been a main attraction at the legendary Antique Engine and Threshing shows at Joyland Park in the 1950s. Chady had heard that the engine had been sold with the park, and in fact it had, and Stan was the owner of the park! Stan told Chady that the old 65 – a Case steam engine – was still parked in the round-top barn, sitting quietly among years of accumulation of retired amusement park rides. Chady told me that night he had found an engine very few living people knew about, and it just might be available.

Patrick Mayo
4/17/2011 1:43:42 AM

That was one exteremly interesting article about that Joyland 65. I am very happy that the current owner got the engine and through all the trials and tribulations. And of the unfortunate passing of his old steam friend the 65 hp Case got finished and passed inspection. I don't own a steamer---yet, but hope to someday before my passing. My hat is off to you your father and all the helpers that got this great engine back again. Fantastic job done!!!!!!