MIRACLE ENGINEER AND MECHANIC LOUDOUN RYAN

By Staff
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John W. Fouche, Sr., 79 years old, is shown with his pride and joy, a steam traction engine, which he has constructed during his leisure moments of the past two years.

John W. Fouche, Sr., of Ryan, who is known as the ‘miracle
engineer and mechanic of Loudoun Ryan’ is still astounding his
neighbors.

Seventy-nine years old on June 19, Mr. Pouche recently has
completed constructing a miniature steam traction engine, the
second one he has made in his long mechanical career. He built his
first engine when a young boy of 16 years.

Mr. Fouche, who was born in 1873 and still lives in the same
community of his birth, says as a youth he was called
‘crazy’ about machinery, and the only subject he was
interested in as a boy in school was natural philosophy.

The following article was taken from the Londoun News, Leesburg,
Va. July 1952. It is all very interesting.

He says the first steam engine he ever saw was at Ashburn, then
known as ‘Farmwell’. It was an old wood burning locomotive.
The first traction engine he recalls seeing belonged to G. W.
Bradshaw. This was steered by two oxen which provided a good part
of the power sometimes, according to Mr. Fouche. The driver sat in
a seat up front and operated the throttle, while an engineer would
walk behind and feed wood and water from a cart hitched to the back
of the engine.

Seeing these mechanical miracles intrigued Mr. Fouche. He was
working in his father’s shop at the time and set about to
construct a steam traction engine.

Mr. Fouche always has had the reputation of doing anything he
set out to accomplish, and it was even so in his youth.

The engine was a success. Many of the older people in the area
can still recall Mr. Fouche giving them a ride in a little cart he
hitched behind that first engine.

He said about that time the first bicycle made its appearance in
the area and he wanted one more than anything. To obtain one he
gave up his traction engine in trade.

And so it was down through the years. As new inventions and
vehicles made their appearance, Mr. Fouche was never happy until he
had successfully mastered everything he came across.

He owned one of the first automobiles in Loudoun County and was
recognized as about the only person who could make one run.

As Mr. Fouche told The Loudoun News, ‘it would take a large
book printed in small type’ to trace his amazing and
interesting career.

After working for many years as head mechanic and foreman for a
large firm in Washington, he returned to Ryan in the late thirties.
He has lived in semiretirement in that community ever since.

Two years ago one of his daughters, Mrs. Keith S. Brown, urged
Mr. Fouche to make another traction engine. This was about the only
encouragement he needed.

‘There is nothing we old ‘engine men’ like more than
to hear the sound of the perfect exhaust of a fine locomotive or
steam engine,’ he said.

It took him approximately two years to make this second engine,
but considering the perfection of detail and hand workmanship
involved, that is comparatively a short time.

All parts for the engine, which is now at the Downs Service
Station, junction of Route 7 and Ashburn road, were worked out and
made in Mr. Fouche’s Ryan shop with the exception of a few
fittings, fly wheel and gears. No castings were used.

Mr. Fouche is the father of seven children, five daughters and
two sons. His wife died several years ago.

His two sons, Julian and John. D., Jr., are well known mechanics
in Loudoun County today. His daughters are Mrs. John Dunnigton and
Mrs. Lewis L. Cornell of Arlington, Mrs. Keith S. Brown of
Alexandria, Mrs. William L. Costello and Mrs. A. Q. Aquino of
Ashburn.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment