Courtesy of Clarence E. Mitcham, Route 1, Mead, Washington 99021 Charles Bennett firing up the little steam boat.
Route 1, Mead, Washington 99021
In August our V. W. Bus took us to Silverton, Oregon to the Mikkelson's Harvest Festival. After four days there and a fine Bee, we went up the coast to Seattle, then home. Just one week and we started for Montana, visited a son at Kalispell and another at Lakeside, went fishing on Flathead Lake and four of us caught 23 nice trout. Then on to Cut Bank and saw the Chrisoferson collection. He has two Canadian engines and a bend gear Aultman-Taylor and many others.
Then about 5:30 p.m., we arrived at Mehmke's, 11 miles east of Great Falls. Now, Walter has a real collection. You just name it and he has it. We got there Thursday and left Monday and what a time! There were 19 steam engines and that many oil pulls and gas rigs and about 14 old cars - two Stanley Steamers in the parade and what a crowd!
We left early Monday, Sept. 12 and fifteen miles south of Great Falls we visited the Clarence Youngs and his big collection. We stopped near Missoula Monday night in a rain and lightning storm. Next day we stopped at St. Regis, Montana to see an old friend, Charles Bennett. He wasn't home but his wife and daughter were and they showed us his beautiful Case engine. Charles surely takes good care of this engine, keeps it under cover and well oiled. About three days later, his letter asked us if we would care to take a ride in his steam boat on Lake Coeur Dalane in Idaho. Well, we sure accepted and kept our fingers crossed for this late in September you might get anything in the weather line.
We arrived at high noon Sept. 21 and he had a fire going and it wasn't long before the little craft was moving down a lane of beautiful yachts, some costing $30,000.00, but none could move as cheaply as the one we were in. We went about three miles south then turned west to a dock where I got out and took some pictures in action. My wife, Beatrice, had a hay day steering the craft that day. I sure liked the way Charles watched that engine and fired that little boiler. He kept it at about 140 lbs. nearly all the way. That little 10 hp. Twin compound (made by Simple Engine Co. of St. Louis, Mo.) sure did itself proud that day. The boiler pops at 160 lbs. but the only pop we heard that day was the big whistle he used as we passed a fleet of fishing boats in Wolf Lodge arm near Beauty Bay about 10 miles from Coeur Dalene. Very seldom do you find Coeur Dalene Lake with a glass surface, with no wind, 84 degrees above on the last day of summer. We had a wonderful trip and only hope the Bennett's give us a chance to do it again. This boat is an old 18 foot Rienell hull and Charles is looking around for a bigger hull and if he gets it I only hope the Mitcham's have another chance at a boat trip but the next time we will furnish the wood.
On the 24th, we headed west and north from Spokane to Evan Jones Bee near Riverside, Washington. We sure enjoyed that and the wonderful hospitality they put out. Picked up our winters supply of delicious apples at Riverside, stopped overnight at Coulee Dam and the next day headed for home with 17 beautiful rainbow trout. We were home six days and went to C. J. Pounder's Bee just north of Spokane. This Bee was only 14 miles from our home. The Kiwanis Club had a lunch stand and they served corn on the cob dipped in hot butter. I will never forget that. M. Anderson of Oksogan, had his hot air engine there and at Jone's too. This engine made in about 1900 and restored by Anderson ran like a clock all day pumping water. We only hope the good Lord gives us good health for a few years yet, so we can take in the Bee's again.