Bismarck, Missouri 63624
It was the day before Thanksgiving Day, 1925 that my partner,
Lem Meador and I, started to move our 19-hp Port Huron engine about
15 miles to put it into use in our saw mill. The water tank mounted
on a wagon was filled with water, the top piled high with coal and
hitched behind the engine and we started the long move. This was in
South Central Illinois, near the town of Vernon. That area is
reasonably level, and the roads are easy to get over with an
engine. As soon as we were out on the road, Lem got into his Baby
Overland car and went on ahead to check bridges and make
arrangements for going around any bridges that might prove to be
too great a risk. This left me to bring the engine all by myself a
job I enjoyed.
The first ten miles was covered without incident. I had eaten a
lunch I had brought along and was moving along nicely along the
wide level road; I set the steering wheel straight ahead and
stepped down to throw in a fire of coal, when the engine’s
exhaust began suddenly to bark sharp and clear, indicating the
engine was laboring under a heavy load. My first thought was that
the engine had ran into the ditch beside the road and it was then
that I made my first mistake I closed the throttle.
I looked over the side of the driver and saw I had ran into a
springy place in the road dry on top but soft underneath. It was
then I made my second mistake; I reversed the engine and tried to
back out of the soft spot, and the result was that the drivers
slipped and the bottom of the fire box was sitting on the mud.
About this time Meador arrived on the scene and we went to a nearby
woods, cut some poles and tried to get the drivers to run up onto
them, but the more we worked the more helplessly we became mired.
Darkness came upon us and we went to the home of a nearby farmer,
borrowed two lanterns and hung them on the engine as a protection
of sorts for any motorist that might happen along, and went home.
The next day being Thanksgiving we decided to put off the job of
getting the engine out, until after the feast day. On Friday
morning, we were at the scene by the time the sun came up. We had
shovels and spades and were all set for a long digging job. I have
seen many engines stuck in mud, sand, in ditches and in various
other ways, but I have never seen one so completely mired as this
‘It Will Set Fire to Our Strawstacks,’ Farmers
Complained When They Saw It
Replica of the First Combine
This picture. shows how the engineers of Michigan State College
interpreted the patent claims of Hiram Moore, of Climax, Michigan,
who nearly a hundred years ago invented and built the world’s
first combine harvester and thresher and successfully harvested and
threshed in a single day 1,100 bushels of wheat with the machine
pulled by 20 horses on his farm near Climax. On October 3 at 10 a.
m. a tablet will be placed on a boulder at the edge of this field
in memory of Mr. Moore. The public is invited. To have a part in
this educational movement Michigan Farmer readers are sending to
the Editor of the Michigan Farmer one cent each, to be used in
defraying the expense of placing this tablet. Courtesy of Gilbert
W. Bird, R, 9, Box 2185, Battle Creek, Mich.
We started digging about 12 feet ahead of the front wheels,
gradually sloping down and toward the engine. By nightfall we had
the earth all dug out from around the engine and under it to a
point level with the bottom of the drivers. The next day a nearby
farmer hauled some bridge planks to the scene; these were placed
under the drivers, or rather in front of the drivers so the wheels
would run up onto them. Then we took a long heavy rope, wrapped it
around the fly wheel of the engine and the farmer hitched his team
to one end of the rope in such a manner as to revolve the flywheel;
with the clutch engaged, the engine would move forward a short
distance each time the length of rope was unwound from the wheel.
It was late in the afternoon of Saturday before the engine was out
in the solid ground again.
Before threshing time rolled around again, I left that area and
did not return again for about seven years. And while we had filled
in the depression in the road where we dug the engine out, the
first man I met after I returned after seven years of absence,
jokingly requested that I come out and fix the mud hole I had
created; He said each winter the road became almost impassible at