304 N. Glover Drive, Longview, Texas 75601
It has been well said that 'first impressions are lasting impressions,' especially as it applies to one's early life. I was 'brought up' in the days when steam power was king. The old steam locomotive engineers were the 'astronuts' of my boyhood days. Yes, even the fellows who piloted the steam powered tractors or who operated stationary steam engines were highly esteemed on my part as a youngster. In heart, their work was my workand their delights in operating steam powered machines was my delight, and I looked forward to the day when I would be more than just an onlooker. But, strange as it may appear, I never reached the goal of my boyhood ambitions. After I became a teen-ager I turned aside to persue another course in life and became a preacher of the gospel of Christ. This course I have persued for 65 years helping the Lord to run 'the gospel train' with the gospel of Christ as the power thereof. (see Romans 1:16.) During the years of my ministry I have traveled extensively as an evangelist mostly by trains powered by steam locomotives. Thus I have been associated with many people who worked for the railroads and during that time I never lost my interest and enthusiasm in steam power.
When I saw the hand-writing on the wall that steam power would soon begin to give way to other powers more practical and economical, I then decided that I should get busy and help to preserve some of the things belonging to the age of steam. Thus my hobby was born; and for quite a number of years I have enjoyed this hobby very much. As I went over the country collecting these artifacts the reactions of the people were varied. Some regarded what they had as 'junk' and were glad to get rid of it. Others thought of me as a 'steam engine nut' and often times would ask, 'What are you going to do with all these old discarded things?' Still others were somewhat emotional. One aged man who had operated a large lumber plant southern Lousiana sold me a steam whistle with this sad comment: 'I hate to see this whistle go, for we have used it on one of our locomotives in these woods for forty years. I can still imagine how it sounded when the engineer would do some 'fancy whistling' as he would bring the log trains into the plant.'
At first, the scrap metal dealers had a field day in buying, for practically nothing, the steam locomotives, bells, whistles, and other things. But very few railroad compaines were thoughtful enough to preserve these things for future generations to see and enjoy. Some companies did donate some of their bells to churches and parks over the country. Some cities received steam locomotives which were placed in parks without any protection from the elements. Many of these engines were robbed of all removable parts by thieves and vandals. It is a pity to look upon some of these huge monsters of the rails in their state of delapidation. Even some of the fellows who worked for the railroads for many, many years, and who were in 'the middle of the patch' didn't make any effort to save any of it. But the day for finding and purchasing these things is almost gone. The few remaining tourist railroads using steam power over the country have quickened the interest of the people in getting these things and perserving them for future generations to see and enjoy. I still find this hobby facinating at the ripe age of 83 years. The invitation goes out to all steam age enthusiast to come to see me and the collection I have.