Farm Collector


Bowesmont, North Dakota 58217

I’m sending you a picture of an old Canton steam engine made
by C. A. & Co. of Canton, Ohio Engine No. 2193 which blew up
approximately) of a century ago. It was buried in a wheat field
right where it blew up, about five miles west of Pembina, North
Dakota and about two miles from the Canadian border.

One day they were getting ready to thresh and were getting up
steam and someone noticed the steam pressure was getting rather
high. So, they told a man to start the engine so it would use steam
to release the pressure. As the engine was on dead center, just as
the man was ready to turn it over, it exploded; no doubt killing
that man for one man was killed and the owner of the rig was
standing between the water tank and the engine and it sent him
flying through the air landing fifty feet from where the engine
stood. He was not hurt too much. It also sent a five gallon oil can
right in the mouth of the separator. For some unknown reason, the
remains of the engine was buried right in the wheat field where it
blew up. Probably it was the easiest way to dispose of the engine
at that time.

Now, about a year and a half ago, I heard about this engine and
where it was buried. So, I went out to see the man on whose land it
was to get permission to get it out. Somehow, some of the boiler
part wasn’t buried too deep and the farmer would get his plow
hooked into it. He was glad to get it out of the wheat field, as it
was a nuisance to him. By making some rods and driving them into
the ground, we soon located the engine for the farmer knew
approximately where it was buried. By doing a little digging, we
soon located the engine proper and later on my neighbor, Melvin
Juhl, with a bulldozer, uncovered some more.

We got most of the boiler out, but it was so blown to pieces, it
was hard to tell how the boiler was built. Some of it must have
been square, from the looks of the pieces we dug out. It was a wood
burner and I think the firebox was made square. It was horse drawn
and the engine only ran one way.

The owner of the engine was a man by the name of Morris,
don’t know his first name but he has a son by the name of
Walter Morris that still lives at Pembina, N. D. and still farms
some of his father’s land. He was 72 years old when I dug out
the engine and the engine was buried for 74 years so he never saw
his father’s/ engine until I dug it up. Boy, was he glad to see
the old engine!

Now, there were parts broken and missing. The flywheel was
broken and I practically had to make a complete new crank shaft.
Rebored the cylinder on my 13′ lathe and got a true and
accurate job which saved me quite a bit. Made new piston and rings
using stainless steel for piston rod. So, I now have the engine
proper in running order and steam it up occasionally to see it run
by taking steam from another boiler. It runs smooth and nice.

I was able to pick up a good boiler 40′ diameter and a
neighbor gave me some good wheels quite similar to the original old
ones. I hope this summer I’ll be able to mount the engine on
the boiler and get it to look like the original old engine.

A relative of Walter Morris, a real old farm lady happened to
have a picture of this old engine and I was able to get some
reprints made. It’s not very clear but was the only picture I
could find of this engine no doubt, the only one in existence.
Also, am sending a picture of Melvin Juhl on the bulldozer.

  • Published on Nov 1, 1969
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