A reprint (with permission) from Threshers Craft, Mt. Pleasant,
Iowa, January/February/March 1989 issue. Submitted by Jim Adams,
Midwest Old Threshers, Route 1, Threshers Road, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa
The Midwest Old Threshers Board of Directors selected a 25 HP
Russell steam engine as ‘Steam Engine of the Year’ for the
1989 Midwest Old Threshers Reunion, scheduled for August 31 to
September 4. The engine, owned by Charles and Alden Fricke, Mt.
Union, Iowa was chosen several months ago, even before the 1988
Reunion was history.
The Fricke brothers acquired the steam engine, built in 1922,
from Lloyd Widmer, Winfield, Iowa. Widmer is a former director,
steam engineer and volunteer at Midwest Old Threshers. He retired
from the Board of Directors in 1982.
The engine has received ‘tender loving care’ from the
Frickes during their ownership. In 1952, it was completely
In 1981, the Frickes replaced the flues, setting the engine up
in a location on the Midwest Old Threshers grounds. A tree was used
to support the front of the engine and rail ties were utilized to
give support to the other portion of the engine as work
In 1985, the engine was taken to Cedar Rapids, Iowa where Tunnie
Melsha replaced the flue sheet at that time.
In addition to this steam traction engine, Alden and Charles
Fricke also exhibit tractors and gas engines, as well as three
other steam engines. The steam engines are: a 6 horse power Russell
engine built in 1899; a 6 horse power Nichols and Shepard engine
built in 1885; and a 12 horse power Russell engine built in
The Fricke brothers have had a long association with Midwest Old
Threshers and have given of their time and energies to support the
Association through its forty years of existence. Their efforts
were recognized in a small way in 1988 when they were both given
Old Threshers Awards during a special ceremony at grandstand, prior
to the Cavalcade of Power.