4214 W. Chicago Street, Rapid City, South Dakota
The thought has occured to me many times the last few years regarding the possibility of a shortage of experienced Steam Engine men in the near future. I have attended several different reunions over the past seven years and have noticed that for the most part the men running the engines are of a rather high average age. Of course this is natural as most of them are men who ran engines when they were our common source of power. This was many years ago and these are the men who of their love of the old steam power have collected and restored many of the grand old engines to show the younger generation and to get the thrill of once again running an engine. Most of us who run a steam engine know of no greater enjoyment than to fire up and run a good engine.
Here is the thing that must be faced by every old engineman. In another ten years there will not be too many of us left to carry on this wonderful hobby. Each year now sees many called from the ranks. The answer as I see it is to start right now and look for the kind of young men who have a genuine interest in a Steam Engine and teach them, all we can about them. It will not be as easy as you may think. There are a great many who show interest or maybe just curiosity. To find a young man who likes an engine enough to put in all the time and care it takes to keep an engine up year after year is what we have to look for. Once we find that kind of man then will come hours of patience and teaching so he may be able to run and take care of an engine as you want and do.
If we can do this then we can rest assured that the many fine engines that we have saved from the scrap heap will be kept in good condition and in good hands for generations to come. I doubt if there is an engine owner today who would rest easy if he knew his old engine would die when he does. So why not look around for some one to pass your knowledge on to.
You younger fellows who read this if you sincerely want to learn about Steam Engines and perhaps some day own one, I suggest you try striking up a friendship with one of these old Enginemen. For the most part you will find them great guys, and willing to spend time with you if you are really interested.
It was my good fortune to see a real young engineer in action at a show I was to at Dalton, Minn. in 61. I have wished since that I had gotten to talk with him. I saw this boy who I would guess was about 16 or so running a big Huber. First off I noticed he had a man's haircut, you didn't have to look at him twice to see what it was as is the case so many times today. Second he was paying attention to nothing but that engine. Then it was the Huber's turn at the sawmill, this lad put the Huber in the belt in a time and manner that put many of the old timers who tried it well in the shade. Then when the old engine would pick up the load he would cock his ear up to the stack and enjoy the talk of an engine at work as only a real Engineman can. He was on the ball every minute watching the water, steam gauge and keeping an eye on the sawyer, just plain good engineering.
Well, I believe I have covered what I had in mind and hope you fellows accept it as I have intended.