I STILL LOVE STEAM ENGINES


| November/December 1968



302 West Water Street,Mayfield, Kentucky 42066

I am a great lover of steam. I am a member of the American Thresherman Association. I go to one or two shows every year. I wish I could attend them all. The stories that follow are actual experiences that I had around sawmills and wheat threshers as a youngster.

My father operated a sawmill and threshed wheat for many years. He used a 16 HP Russell Traction engine on the mill. This engine would pull itself on the road, but it had no steering gear. It had a tongue and a hitch and used a team of mules to guide it on the road. I never saw another like it.

The timber was very big and Dad cut lots of long lengths. He decided he need ed more power so he bought a 10 HP Geiser plain skid engine. He placed it beside the Russell Engine and extended the saw mandrel, and it worked fine. It was the first and only mill I ever saw pulled with two engines.

The mill was located at the Clarks River bottom-about ten miles northeast of Mayfield, Kentucky. A half mile from the mill site was a one-hundred acre swamp known as Cypress Pond. The swamp was full of cypress trees, snakes, coons, wild turkey, and domesticated hogs gone wild. In the winter when the pond was frozen over, Dad would go there hunting. I remember that on one occasion he killed a wild turkey and a wild hog. He also used a common technique for trapping coons. He would bore holes in some of the logs in the pond and drive sharpened nails into the holes at an angle. He would then fill the holes with honey or molasses. A coon going for this bait would get snagged on the nails. Sometime ago the swamp was drained, although some cypress remain.

I remember he used what he called a lizard to get logs out of the pond. The lizard was a forked tree about six or eight feet long and about eight inches in diameter. He bored a hole in the big end for a chain hitch. He would roll the logs on the lizard, drag them to solid ground, load them on the wagon, and haul them to the mill. Some job!