LETTING OFF STEAM


| January/February 2003



A new era in steam is dawning, and with this, the first issue of Steam Traction, we embark on a new journey in our quest to explore and preserve the history and traditions of the steam community.

It's an exciting time in the steam hobby, a time to draw new members into our ranks so we can ensure that the past we embrace is appreciated and celebrated by a new generation of steam enthusiasts.

Drawing from the rich tradition of Iron-Men Album, we move forward with a new look and new name. Yes, much has changed, but much remains the same, particularly our focus on the machines that helped shape a nation and the community that keeps their memory alive physically, intellectually and culturally.

One hundred years ago the agricultural industry was in a period of rapid advancement. New devices for working the land and easing the toil of the working farmer were introduced seemingly by the hour, and powering many of these devices were the portable and traction steam engines we lovingly collect and preserve today.

Steam was King, but its dominance quickly waned. Even so, it left an indelible mark on our history, and without its decisive influence it's doubtful we would have come so far as a country technologically, agriculturally or socially.

It is the steam community that keeps this heritage alive, restoring engines and threshers, celebrating at reunions and sharing their knowledge. That knowledge comes from a wide spectrum of enthusiasts, all ardently working for the future while preserving the past. Bruce Babcock's story on building a large Prony brake is a perfect example of this, and Harold Stark's article on issues of boiler safety on page 20 further exemplifies the spirit with which the community is working toward ensuring the heritage of steam. The importance of education likewise continues, with enrollment in steam schools increasing yearly, and to that end this year's steam schools are listed in the Coming Events section of our classifieds.