LETTING OFF STEAM


| September/October 2003


Since the earliest days of the hobby, the subject of the first threshermen's reunion has engendered more than a little debate. Mehl Young's interesting article on the 'Field Days' held by the Stark County (Ohio) Threshermen's Association in 1939 looks set to extend that debate.

There's been a general consensus for years that 'Steam Engine Joe' Rynda in Minnesota and LeRoy Blaker in Ohio held the first recognized reunions. I say 'recognized' because there's also a consensus that similar events were held that weren't billed as reunions. But the Field Days of 1939-1942 were clearly designed as reunions, and they were clearly motivated by the same sentiments that eventually built a hobby and a network of threshermen reunions across the country. The 'first' reunion may never be established, but it's more than a little interesting to have new information on an event that was, if not the first, amongst the very earliest of its kind. Check the article The First Reunion for Mehl's excellent article.

On another note, most of you already know that Bruce E. Babcock, a regular contributor to these pages, has a seat on the newly formed Ohio Historical Boilers Licensing Board. In his capacity as a board member, Bruce helps to advise and oversee how the board operates and the scope of its oversight of historical boilers. Drawing from his experience, Bruce has put together a booklet detailing the rules developed by the board and giving information on the new requirements for operators of steam engines in Ohio.

At 67 pages Bruce's booklet, An Unofficial Guide for Owners and Operators of Historical Boilers in Ohio, is packed with information, and it is information with which even those outside of Ohio would do well to familiarize themselves. Ohio, in the aftermath of Medina, is crafting guidelines that could become a template for states with less defined regimes in place that want to clarify their handling of antique boilers. So far, the board appears to be going about its business pragmatically and fairly, an approach that needs to be encouraged nationally.

Bruce's booklet is available free of charge on the Internet at www.ironacres.com/ohioboiler/ thanks to Mark Parsisson, who, with Bruce's great thanks, has posted the guide on his web site.






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