HOW THE MAGIC OF STEAM WAS STARTED


| November/December 1976



Magic Age of Steam

Jr., Yorklyn, Delaware 19736

The Marshall family has lived in this area since 1734, the old homestead being one mile north on Red Clay Creek. In 1889, Israel W. Marshall (1850-1911) and his brother, Elwood, bought the mill property just below the present 'Magic Age of Steam', and in 1897 Israel built 'Auburn Heights', the large Victorian mansion on the grounds.

T. Clarence Marshall (1885-1969), Israel's younger son, sold Stanley Steam Cars in this area from 1910 until 1920. When he was married in 1921, he purchased the home from his mother. In 1940, he bought a local Stanley he had sold as a dealer in 1913 from John Becker, the original owner. It was roughly restored, and by the time World War II broke out there were three Stanleys and a Packard 'conversion' operated by steam in the infant collection. These cars were used during the war when kerosene was readily available, but motor fuel was strictly rationed.

By 1946, there were upwards of 20 cars in the Marshall collection. The present Museum building was erected in 1947, and soon it was full of old cars. Most all the mechanical restorations were done by T. Clarence Marshall, though painting and top work was done elsewhere. At an Antique Automobile Club of America meet in 1948, 12 cars from the Marshall collection were driven to the Meet, and 9 won prizes. Many of the Stanley cars have been driven on the Glidden Tours, and other tours for old automobiles.

In the late 1950s, T. Clarence Marshall turned his attention to the building of small scale model steam locomotives, and the tiny engines that pull the trains around the grounds are the result of his efforts. In 1960, the original 'Auburn Valley' railroad line was built, and this little railroad was opened to the public by Historic Red Clay Valley, Inc. from 1961 through 1965. 33,000 passengers were carried during 70 operating days in the 5 years.

Following the death of T. Clarence Marshall in 1969, his only son, Thomas C. Marshall, Jr., and Weldin V. Stumpf, presently mechanical director of the Museum, prepared to open the facilities to the general public. After the rebuilding of the rail line (about 3/4 of the present railroad is relocated trackage from the original), modernizing the museum building, and installing a new steam system for heat and power, the 'Magic Age of Steam' opened for the first time in September, 1971. It was open for 7 months each year on weekends only, and during the Christmas-New Year holiday. In 1973, daily operation during July and August was inaugurated. (Since the schedule is subject to change, be sure to check the latest brochure for current dates.)