Farm Collector

Let’s Look Ahead

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.

  • Published on May 1, 1963
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