R. D. 3, Box 2, Mitchell, Indiana
Howdy folks, another new year is here and as I said, brother how
time flies, he said never mind the flies. No flies now but that was
I have been trying all week to remember the name of Uncle
Henry’s old steam engine that he had in the year 1914 when I
was fourteen years of age. The name Atherton comes to me.
The day he sold this engine he drove it up on one of the highest
ridges in this country, on an old logging road all the way. He
filled his engine tanks at the creek and expected to get over the
ridge to the next creek. He failed to do so. Ran out of water at
the tip of the big hill. He came to our house to get our wagon and
team. Father was gone with the wagon so we went to get a neighbors
help. This man, Mr. Terrill, was a good man to help his neighbors.
Mr. Terrill, my brother and myself drove three-fourths of a mile to
the creek with his two and our one barrel for water. We drove one
mile on west to the high hill and set the wagon at the side of the
engine. Mr. Henry says, ‘Boys, this boiler is down to the
frying pan level’. Mr. Terrill yelled, ‘Hold off them
valves till I get away from here.’ So he went, hand on hat,
down in the ravine behind the hill and in the timber.
I took a look at the water glass and saw just a little over one
inch of water in the glass. My guess was that one inch of water
with the front wheels of the engine up on a small bank, was safe
enough. Mr. Henry got all the water he could use then called for
Mr. Terrill to come back. Mr. Terrill came back and said,
‘It’s easier to run now than to try to outrun a slab of hot
iron.’ Mr. Terrill did not like to be around an engine unless
he was sure the water level was up.
When I was 17 years of age I fired and took care of an engine
most of one summer and I never did let the water get below the safe
2 inches in the glass.
Yet Uncle Henry was to burn the ‘fire tube’ out of a
Huber that summer. He had years of experience on straight flue
boilers and yet let a fast running Huber go dry. While working to
get the piston pump started the injector had quit. He forgot how
long he had been on top trying to get the pump started. All that
saved him and possibly some of the eight others at the crusher was
that the row of center support bolts in the top of the fire flue
held up the top of the tube. The sides of the tube sagged in almost
closing the top one-third of the fire flue. When he saw this
condition he sent the 8 men ‘over the hill’ in a hurry,
then pulled out the fire. A Huber uses water somewhat faster than
the fire box type because it has less water volume capacity.