From A Missouri Farm To The Blue Ridge Mountains


| September/October 1989



Baker engine

Verden Winship and son Dennis on #15082 in 1953.

Rt. 1, Box 459-A Sugar Grove, North Carolina 2867

In 1987 July-August Iron Men Album, I read: 'For Sale: 18 HP Advance Rumely #15082, Art Buckwalter Monroe City, Missouri.' This traction engine was just what I had been wanting to find. I called Art, and we talked about his engine. It was still operable; it had no boiler welds; gearing and cleats were excellent; factory rocker grates and flues were new in the 60's; the smoke box, flue sheet and crown sheet were fine; gear guards were in place; it had a canopy and side tanks; the jacket had been removed. We discussed a photo, and Art agreed to send one.

I dug out the atlas and figured the mileage from Sugar Grove, North Carolina to the place the Advance Rumely was located on brother-in-law Herb Kuntemeyer's farm. Wow! The distance was over 750 miles! I was generating funds for the purchase of a steam-traction engine by selling some gasoline engines, a spark plug collection, old signs, a soda bottle collection, and other collectibles that I had been accumulating over the past twenty-three years. When my ad appeared in the GEM and IMA, several long-time friends from other states called and wanted to know what I was on the trail of. I told them that Traction Engine Fever had bit me big time, and the only cure was to buy one. When steam gets into a person's blood, it stays there. I can trace my steam heritage back nearly two centuries. Scholl ancestors worked on some of the first steam railroads in America. My Grandpa William Scholl worked in the oil fields of southern Ohio where wells were drilled and then pumped with steam engines. Step-great Grandpa Scott Root of Harlem, Ohio was thresherman-sawmill operator, and, during the prime of traction engines, he owned two Aultman Taylors, an Avery, three Bakers, seven Geiser-Peerless, three Huber, and three Russell steam traction engines. All that remained of these engines while I was growing up were the memories. Uncle Chris Keeler from Hilliard, Ohio was a thresherman. He did not own steam, but he did use Huber equipment. Grandpa Bill Mullins of Sunbury, Ohio, was a licensed stationary steam engineer, and he had numerous stories to tell: Grandpa Bill and Great-grandpa Mullins were filling a silo with a traction engine for power. Grandpa was firing the engine and Great-grandpa would holler, 'Bill, how's the water?'

'It's O. K., Dad.'

Later the question came, 'How's the water?' The reply was the same. This went on for a time, and Great-grandpa decided to check the water himself. About that time the safety plug melted out. Things got pretty exciting for both of them with all that steam flying everywhere. Neither of them was hurt, but they learned a good lesson. The water glass had shown one-half full when the safety plug melted. Sediment and rust had plugged the plumbing to the glass, and this caused the false reading. The petcock on the bottom of the glass should always be opened before firing up to see that no blockage exists.

During my childhood years at Hilliard, Ohio, I heard many steam engine stories. My dad told about firing Great-grandpa Root's Baker in the middle 1930's. This engine was sold during WW II and used on a sawmill near Delaware, Ohio. The boiler later ended up in a feed mill at New Albany, Ohio. Dad also told about going to the Huber Reunion and seeing many used steam engines lined up in sheds at the Marion, Ohio plant. The first steam show I can remember Dad taking us to was at Mechanicsburg, Ohio in 1959. This was the early days of Miami Valley Steam Threshers. Dad, my brother, and I wanted to own a traction engine, but we just could not afford it. Then, during the infancy of gasoline-engine collecting, we started our own collection. (See GEM April 1986, page 24 and August GEM 1987, page 20.) My brother and I also worked for the Weber brothers that told us about their dad owning a Baker engine during the 30's.