I just wanted to write in and let everyone know what goes on in my hometown of Cumming, Ga. Every 4th of July we have a steam engine parade that goes through downtown Cumming. It all started in 1958, when A.G. 'Glen' Thomas decided that he would drive his 1912 45 HP Case steam engine around the courthouse square. His grandson, Joel 'Chigger' Webb, told me that they drove the engine around the square with four or five kids following on their bicycles. That was our first parade.
The next year a couple of other engines joined him for the ride around the square. This went on for a couple of more years until Dr. Jim Mashburn purchased a Peerless steam engine and really organized it into a parade. The parade would then go around the square and end up at his house, just outside of town, where they would have wheat threshing, run the Baker fan and just have a great time with the steam engines. As a young boy 1 always looked forward to the parade every year. I never missed the parade.
Of course there was always the occasional politician, or a local ball team, or a company that could put a float in the parade. But, all I cared about was the steam engines. Finally, after waiting all of my 28 years, my family purchased a 1902 20 HP Case steam engine. My brother, Shane, and I were finally able to operate a steam engine in our parade like we have always wanted to.
When we purchased the engine it was in running condition. Shane and I redid the plumbing and also repainted the engine. We did some work on the bearings and the gears to try to quiet it down. All of this was done under the supervision of Bud Thomas, our hometown steam engine expert. We were also required by the City of Cumming to put rubber on our wheels so that we would not tear up the roads. We are now in the process of restoring a preheater to go on our engine because ours did not have one on it when we got it. Also I would like to let you know, as well as everyone else, that our engines are inspected every year and are certified to 150 psi. I know some people are probably concerned in the wake of the Ohio tradgedy.
The Bagwell family's portable Peerless engine, s/n 2712. Can anyone provide more information on this engine?
I am now 29 years old and my brother is 40 years old. All of the engines that were in our parade this year were operated by people under 50 years of age.
This year's 'Thomas/Mashburn Memorial Steam Engine Parade' was the largest ever with 17 steam engines in the parade. With all of the other participants, this year's parade lasted approximately 2-1/2 hours, with an estimated crowd of about 20,000 people. The Thomas legacy was very apparent with Glen's great grandson, Richard Webb, operating the engine that started it all back in 1958. His other great-grandson, Ralph Webb, operated his very own Peerless. His great-great-grandson operated a Case steam engine, along with another great-great-grandson operating a 1/8 scale steam engine. The Roscoe Thomas family, another cousin to Glen, had four steam engines in the parade. The Doodler Thomas family, another cousin to Glen, had two steam engines in the parade, one of which was new, this year. Dr. Jim's Peerless is still in the parade. The Lang family had their Case engine in it pulling a calliope. The Gravitt family brought their Case portable. This year there were five new engines. Along with our engine and the new Thomas engine, was the Castleberrys' Russell engine. The Willinghams' Port Huron, and the Bagwells' portable Peerless engine. And, I know of about five or six engines that could not make our parade this year for one reason or another. Many folks do not know about the engines in Cumming, Ga. We are very proud of our engines and the parade that is put on every year. After Glen passed away in 1969 the threshing and the other things sort of dwindled out. So, this year we are going to have our first annual Steam and Gas Engine Show, sponsored by the City of Cumming Country Fair and Festival, on Nov. 9-11, 2001 to bring all those things back to our home town. We would love for our show to become the greatest show in the Southeast, if not the country some day. But we need the support of everyone that can come. If anyone needs any information, please call 770-781-3491. I am including some pictures of our parade to show everyone what we have in Cumming, Ga. I hope to see you at our show or parade. If not this year, then maybe next year.
Contact steam engine enthusiast Kiwp Blackburn at 5914 Dahonega Hwy., Cumming, GA 30040, or email at: email@example.com