| September/October 1952


Along with my interest in medical advances, I found the changes in farming just as progressive. Tractors were replacing the horse as well as the steam engine. Combining took over the threshing operations, and the methods of the past half-century were fast becoming history. It was a rare sight, indeed, to see a steam engine, either on the farm or on the railroad.

Mr. Joe Weishaupt's 18 hp Keck-Gonnerman at the Pontiac Reunion last Sept ember. Mr. Weishaupt lives at Mackinawlll. It was the engine with Walt Disney's characters painted on it. It was attractive and very noticeable. We have been greatly impressed with the performance of the K-G. Courtesy of Clark Hollywood Studios, 105 Harvey Street, Washington, Illinois.


An opportunity of recalling these early days was given to this community by Dan Zehr, an implement dealer of Pontiac, Illinois. He had been a threshermen for 35 years, and had kept alive his memory of the old traction steam engines. Thinking that the public, too, would be interested in these old engines and their era of accompanying machinery, Dan organized a threshermen's picnic in Livingston County, in 1949. His enthusiasm aroused a some what latent nostalgia in the old time threshermen, and to his great satisfaction, brought a crowd of 3000 people to that first picnic held in 1949 in Pontiac, Illinois.

The few exhibits, such as three old traction steam engines, a separator, an old cradle, a reaper, a saw mill, an oxen yoke, etc., provided means for recalling the almost forgotten early experiences, and started a lot of good visiting among the old timers.

Their enthusiasm grew and by 1950, these local picnickers were personally contributing from their own store of outmoded implements, furnishings, and last, but not least, machinery. Steam traction engines of the old days seemed to emerge from forgotten and neglected discards. With paint and grease, and lots of repairs, these old engines were put into running order. The picnic news spread and former residents of the community returned to join in the reunion of friends and times.

This added interest attracted civic as well as historic minded people, and a need for an incorporated organization was evident. With the cooperation of the Pontiac City of Commerce, the association became incorporated in 1951, with the title, Zehr's Central States Steam Engine and Thresher Historical Reunion, Inc.,' with Dan Zehr as the co-sponsor for the annual show.