FRED LAWRENCE WRITES


| January/February 1962



Fred in bridge

Fred in bridge, 1895. Got $125.00 damages from County

FRED M. LAWRENCE

Rockford, Illinois

Just received my copy of The Iron Men Album and is a very interesting magazine. I am on my 86 birthday in April and have had 54 years of running engines of nearly all makes and plowing and threshing in North Dakota and most of time in Winnebago County. The first engine I ever ran was a Stillwater I think with upright boiler with a chain drive at the age of 18. I had quite a few pictures where I went through old wooden bridges but don't know where they all went to also went through one bridge with a steam roller which I operated for a number of years for the township. I operated the first traction well drill in this state owned by a Mr. Earl Dickerson. I had a picture of a J. I. Case engine that exploded while threshing in a barn throwing engine upside down, coming down on top of coal wagon. They had a three quarter nipple by two inch nipple in with a cap on it for a safety plug. Crown sheet was torn to pieces like a piece of paper no thicker than a silver dollar. I also saw a new Rumely that exploded when I was running engine up in North Dakota. Had no safety plug in.

All the years I ran an engine I never had such luck but had to stop a few times to get water going in before it got too low. I was pulling to another job early one morning crossing the Northwestern Railroad when the left rear wheel of separator broke through a small culvert and before I could get the thing jacked up and off a west bound freight came along knocking off the Satley Stacker.

The last year that I threshed I ran a Port Huron and was the nicest running engine I ever pulled a throttle on and had run a lot of new ones as I was agent for three different companies and we had the first Port Huron outfit in Winnebago Co. and was a dandy.

I ran a Garr Scott engine for a friend of mine for eight years not knowing what danger I was in when crossing old wooden bridges until a friend of mine who was running one for some one in or near a little town called Byron, Illinois, one Saturday evening he was moving to another job crossing abridge which was about twelve feet across and quite deep. A dry run when the engine broke through and platform folded up on him pinning him and another helper up against the boiler breaking water gauge glass and other pipes as engine was standing nearly on end and they were yelling for some one to knock them in the head but hot water and steam was flying all ways so no one could get near them.

I went down where it happened and the flesh was cooked right off their bones. Worst sight I ever see in all my life and never want to see another.