MIGHTY MINNIE IN THE LITTLE MISSOURI


| September/October 1968



Mighty Minnie engine

Nearing the summit after a long hard pull, high and dry above the river. Mighty ''Minnie'' no longer in the Little Missouri now for the long ride home and a big restoration job.

J. G. Rathert

Forman, N. Dakota

Toward the end of the 3rd day we were getting ready for the big pull. On top of the bank a trench 4 feet deep and 15 feet long was dug for the dead man. We dropped in a large Ash log with double one inch cables leading to the sheave blocks. Many feet of 5/8 inch cable was strung on the sheaves with two one inch cable leading to the rear wheels of the engine. The cables were strung over the rear wheels and chained to them so as to roll the wheels. This should give us more leverage. We hooked Don's little H. D. 5. Chalmers Cat to the take up cable. The rear wheels of the engine just would not turn. The heavy one inch cable snapped like store string. We had loosened all the bearings cap on the counter shaft on this machine, soaked it down good with diesel fuel and oil; also soaked down the rear axel and the hubs. We restrung our cables with the winch truck on our one side and the cat and sheaves on the other side. The rear wheels still would not turn. With this weight and pull the 30 inch wide rear wheels on the engine began to settle. The pull was terrific so much in fact that the entire front end of the engine raised four feet up out of the mud. We surely made quick work of throwing dry dirt, trees, rocks and anything handy under the front end. We had enough power to tip it over backwards, but it still would not roll. We pried on the big gear with bars while pulling and they did turn just a little and again and again the cables snapped. Next, we rerigged the cables to the bottom of the wheels. This way it would lift up on it as we pulled. Getting the wheels to turn seemed impossible. It looked like the only way to move it would be with brute strength and drag it up the backslope we had made. This way we did get it back a couple of feet giving us a chance to get at the front of the boiler and clean out a ton or so of sand. From hereon it was patch cables, slide it a little ways, jack up the left rear wheel using two railroad jacks on the one wheel, taking each jack a notch at a time. We raised it enough to get some railraod ties under it, this way we moved it back about 15 feet. The pin in the big triple sheave block was beginning to bend stopping the pulleys from turning.

We were also beginning to feel the beating, as this was quite a project for just the two of us.

This was a very busy time of the year for Don as he had to get many river crossings, trails and ranch work ready for freeze up. He did spare considerable time to give us a pull and help us when we needed him. This we greatly appreciated. 

The weather turned bad, rain and snow mixed and it was getting colder. This presented more problems as we were miles from an all weather road and could easily get snowed in. We still had a long way to go to get the engine out of danger of the spring high water.

This river bank behind the engine was 35 to 45 ft. high before we cut it down. Our backslope run back 100 to 150 ft. as we had moved the engine only about 15 ft. we still had a long way to go.