Garden of Steam

| November/December 1983

Sept. 1982. Reproduced by IMA with permission.

Sometimes, what one generation uses, another views in museums. Take Herman Bearman's tractor, for example.

In 1911, Bearman decided he needed a revolutionary piece of farm equipment that would operate in his fields without the benefit of horse or mule. Eagerly, he purchased a steam driven Case tractor, manufactured by the J I Case Threshing Machine Company (now Tenneco's J I Case Company) in Racine, Wis.

During the heyday of the 'Age of Steam,' the Comfort, Texas farmer used the steam tractor for a fraction of its useful life before putting it out to pasture and buying more modernized equipment.

The 'Age of Steam' has long-since disappeared, and Bearman has passed on, but his decaying 90-horsepower unit has been removed from its graveyard and been given a second life.

The Center for Transportation and Commerce at Galveston recently purchased the tractor for its new museum. And, though the tractor's working days are over, it now stands as a classic representation of early 20th century machinery.