Kitten steam engines are slowly finding their way back to Ferdinand, Ind., where they were manufactured
Kitten serial number 222 fronts a lineup of four Kitten steam tractors posing for the camera a scant half mile from the old Kitten factory in Ferdinand, Ind. The other Kittens, from left to right: s/n 214, owned by Francis Lindauer; s/n 204, owned by Hubert Reynolds; and s/n 176, owned by Francis Lindauer. Author Jerry Kitten owns s/n 224, made in 1940 and the very last Kitten to leave the factory.
Henry Kemp lives a little south of Ferdinand, Ind., near Troy. He has been running steam engines, saw mills and threshers all his life, and for the last 10 years he has operated Kitten steam engines at different shows in southern Indiana.
Henry's dad used to own a Kitten steam engine, so Henry started looking for a Kitten engine to buy. The only one he found was at the Reynolds-Alberta museum in Canada, so he bought Kitten engine s/n 222 and hauled it back home.
According to the Kitten book I have, this engine was made between 1935 and 1937.1 don't have much info on the owners, but a small note from Eiffel Plasterer shows that in 1966 he sold new fire grates to Lloyd Sanders of Kokomo, Ind., for Kitten s/n 222. Some time after that the Kitten wandered up to Canada, where it stayed until Henry brought it home – and it seems these lumbering giants are ever so slowly heading back to their homeland.
Just a few years ago there were no Kitten steam engines in Ferdinand, Ind., the town of their manufacture. But here we have a picture of four Kitten engines fired up in Ferdinand just about a half mile from the factory where they were manufactured. Today, there are seven Kitten steam engines, three Kitten saw mills, three Kitten water wagons and five Kitten separators close to home. And there are four more Kitten steam engines not far away. Of the 22 Kitten steam engines that are still around, half have found their way back to the Ferdinand area.
Henry now has a complete set of equipment from the Kitten factory. This includes Kitten s/n 222, a water wagon that Eiffel Platerer bought in the 1950s and a saw mill and a separator.
Contact steam enthusiast Jerry Kitten at: RR 2 Box 6, Slaton, TX 79364.