Past and Present

Threshing Memories in Indiana

Rev. G. Bright Hanna, 503 N. Hendricks Ave., Marion, IN 46952, says we asked for old time photos, so he sent us one. Bright writes:

This photo dates back into the early 1930s. I am the water boy behind the water jug in the center. I turned 89 years old the third of September. Only four persons in the photo are still living. The second from the left is my 91-year old brother, the person on the engine wearing the straw hat is 90 years old, and the girl standing on top of the separator is my cousin who is in her 80s. The photo was taken by Glenn Hanna, my father, in Ervin Township, Howard County, Ind. I wish I knew what became of the outfit, but back then machinery wasn’t prized as now.

Steam Birthday Party

Larry Mix, 2075 Coburn Road, Hastings, MI 49058, comes at us with his usual mix of photos. Larry writes:
Here are a few more photos for Steam Traction. Photo #1 was taken at Dale Lewis’ “Hippy” birthday party in May 2005. The engine in the background is a 12 HP Russell owned by Larry Barson. From left: Joe Mix, Larry Mix, Ken Lewis and Dale Lewis. I rode my 1941 Harley-Davidson motorcycle to his party.

Photo #2 is Ken Lewis running Larry Barson’s 12 HP Russell at Dale Lewis’ birthday party, May 2005.
Photo #3 is our 16 HP Aultman & Taylor on the separator at the Historic Charlton Park 34th Annual Antique Gas and Steam Engine Show, Hastings, Mich., July 8-9, 2005. Photo #4 is Joe Mix running our 16 HP Aultman & Taylor on the sawmill at the Charlton Park show.

Photo #5: Here I am running Charlton Park’s 15 HP Westing-house, engine no. 1863. This has to be one of the most awkward engines to run. You can’t see in front of you too well, and the steering wheel is on the right and the flywheel is on the left.
Photo #6 is Jerry LaDeere running the 15 HP Westinghouse on the separator at the Charlton Park show.

Irving Charlton bought the 15 HP Westinghouse back in the early 1950s. Melvin Lugtun told Irving about the Westinghouse. The story goes that a widow lady had it for sale, but her kids didn’t want to see it go. Irving bought the engine from the widow lady and while they were in the house having coffee, two of Irving’s friends pulled the engine out of the dooryard, down the road with a truck and a hay rope, and loaded it up. Ed Tyler and Leonard Vosburg helped Irving get the Westinghouse going. Needless to say, it is an interesting thing to operate.

Steam School Updates

The Central States Threshermen Reunion Steam School will be held June 10-11, 2006, Pontiac, Ill. Classes begin at 8 a.m. For information: Dave Schott, 620 S. Vermillion, Pontiac, IL 61764; (815) 842-3129; http://threshermens
The Midwest Old Threshers Reunion Steam School will be held April 29-30, 2006, in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. For information contact: Terry McWilliams, Public Relations and Marketing, 405 E. Threshers Road, Mt. Pleasant, IA 52641; (319) 385-8937; www.old

The Somerset Steam and Gas Engine Assn. Steam School will be April 8-9, 2006, at the Fairfield View Dairy Farm in Somerset, Va. The cost is $75, registration is required. Includes all materials and two lunches. For more information Bill Roberts, (540) 672-2495;

The Wisconsin Historical Steam Engine Assn. Inc. Steam School will be held Oct. 6-8, 2006, Edgerton, Wis. Preregistration is required with a limit of 50 students. Cost will be $50. For more information contact: Jeff Bloemers, W. 4597 County Road F, Waldo, WI 53093; (920) 564-6292; e-mail: jbsteam@

Ancestry Request

Barbara and Malcolm Carlisle, Lincoln, England (mandbsemail@ are researching their family tree. Malcolm writes:
We are trying to trace our ancestors. One of ours is John James Carlisle who appears on the 1880 census as living in Jeffersonville, Ind., Clark County, and working as a laborer. He was only 27 years old and eventually came back to England to be a “Steam Hammer Driver.” If any readers have any records please e-mail them to us, and if any readers’ families are researching the surname Carlisle with links to the UK please have them contact us.

Letting Off Steam

The Goodband family, 2819 Holler Road, Cortland, NY 13045-9434; (607) 591-5053, shares their views on keeping steam alive.

The Goodband family writes:

We have read Richard Backus’ editorial in the January/February 2005 edition of Steam Traction, which our family likes to read and we try to purchase every edition.

It seems as you mentioned, there’s always someone or some group of people who are trying to destroy our precious and hard fought for American heritage. They think that it is time to forget the antiques that some of us like to play with and join in this “modern technology of the 21st century.”

We as a family are very interested in learning more about steam traction engines in general and hope to own a half-scale engine. We try to attend as many shows as we can in our area, and would like to become “certified” to operate them, which we think (and have been told) is a good idea. We have talked to several older people who have said the way they got started was grandpa had an engine and they learned to fill the boiler. Then they learned how to build the fire in it and went on from there with never any trouble. We think they were lucky that nothing happened. To keep this hobby safe, we feel the International Organization could help do this by the following items. There are just three words that should be said over again and again and they are: education, education, education.

First of all, educate the general public and all governmental people who would destroy our heritage. Second of all, set standards that everyone can live with and still keep the general public safe. Third, create a lobby that will educate those who would destroy our heritage. Fourth, help the young “would be engineers” to get a safe grounding in the operation of these machines before they can take the engineers license test. Fifth, when creating this International Organization there should a representative from each state and county to set the standards and rules for the safe operations of these tractors. Sixth, hold recertification clinics for engineers and also of the engines, in state, county and province. This should be centrally located. Seventh, to be able to have engine inspection in owner’s home area, and not be made to wade through three years worth of red tape if the engine has been purchased out of the purchaser’s home area. Also, on the international board should be at least one person who is up to date on the latest happenings.
An international board should be made up of people who are licensed engineers. Hopefully, they would be willing to impart their knowledge to new steam enthusiasts, either by helping put on a steam school or writing a chapter for a steam school lesson book. We also feel that these schools should include ladies, and the up and coming young people who want to learn about steam traction engines.

Steam and Gas Engine Show

Luke Kissell, 1323 Tannery Hill Road, Westminster, MD 21157 (e-mail: sent us the show report from the Maryland Steam Historical Society’s 50th Annual Steam and Gas Engine Show. Luke writes:
In mid-September an event occurred which is rare in any part of the world, and especially in the eastern United States. It was a gathering of antique steam-powered equipment, the likes of which will be hard to surpass. It all happened at the Maryland Steam Historical Society 50th Annual Steam and Gas Engine Show held in Arcadia, Md.

The show was held from Sept. 15-18, amid the most beautiful weather any outdoor show could hope for. In observance of the club’s 50th anniversary, the decision was made to feature (of course!) steam. The society wanted to have 50 steam engines at the show to help celebrate the occasion and the hobby they have enjoyed for a half a century. And so, the call was put out. Clubs were contacted from all around the region and asked if their members would be gracious enough to participate – they gleefully responded. First a few said, “Yes,” then more, 20, 30, 35.

By the beginning of August, 42 engines were committed to attend. Of course, the club’s members had a monumental task ahead of them. They needed to prepare the Arcadia Fire Co.’s show grounds to handle all these fire-breathing visitors. Members needed to arrange large shipments of coal (an average engine can burn over 500 pounds of coal in a full day!), slab wood and water tanks. Things were starting to take shape when, suddenly, fuel prices skyrocketed. Now, transporting anything was becoming an expensive venture, but a few tons of iron over a multitude of highway miles – this could put a serious dent in the number of engines that came.

But come they did.

They started arriving a week in advance of the show and never stopped, day or night, until late Friday night. The steady procession of low bed trailers hauling those metallic masterpieces was a sight to bring a sense of awe to the beholder. They were carefully placed in rows in pre-determined spots. Engineers and engines came from as far away as New Jersey and the outer reaches of Pennsylvania. Many others wanted to bring their equipment but had to beg off because their state’s boiler certification was not accepted in Maryland.

Now, when you have that many steam engines in one spot, you know there have to be some “steam games” going on. Many participated in the figure eight race, the gate race, the tug-o-war, nighttime steam fireworks, as well as belting to the Prony brake, shingle mill, thresher, sawmill and rock crusher.

Some of the engine manufacturers represented were Keck-Gonnerman, Russell, Peerless, Frick, Emerson-Brantingham, Baker, Farquhar, Case and Kelly Springfield. The largest engine, as far as shear size, was Mike Hobbs’ Aultman & Taylor 25-75. Dave and Will Adams of Coatesville, Pa., brought what I believe to be the oldest steam engine at the show. It was their 1895 Frick 40 HP. They started restoring their engine in November 1999 with the stripped down boiler and had it completed in August 2000. One of the most unique and elaborate engines was an 1899 American fire engine. The folks of the Fire Museum of Maryland in Lutherville exhibited this beautifully polished machine. They even had it under steam and pumping water.

Of course, a great show is not made up of just steam engines. This year’s show hosted a car show with close to 100 antique vehicles, some of which only come out of the garage once a year. There were also over 125 flea market vendors for everyone’s shopping pleasure and food and treats to suit just about any palate.

The gas engine area was filled to the brim with antique engines of every description, some very rare. Case in point, a visit to the exhibit of Ira and Josh Barnes of Gamber, Md., revealed some of their very unique pieces. Although they usually spend a full week hauling antique tractors and crawlers to the show, this year they decided to leave the tractor field to the steam engines and instead haul several loads of hit-and-miss engines to display. Among them were an 1899 21 HP horizontal Otto, a 1913 25 HP Alamo, a 1-1/2 HP York, a 9 HP Domestic, an 8 HP Foos, and a cement mixer powered by a 2 HP Alamo. I also hauled four trailer loads of engines to the show, including four different drag saws.

Well, as you can tell, this year’s event was a tremendous success, thanks to the undying efforts of many a dedicated enthusiast. The goal of having 50 steam engines represented was met and surpassed. Special thanks should go to all who brought their machinery for others to enjoy, like the fine people of Tuckahoe Steam and Gas Assn. and those of the Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Assn., who each brought seven steam engines to the show. People like Jerry Luckenbaugh, Todd Miller and the rest of the “Belt Gang,” Bob Breyer, all the directors, officers and volunteers should be given a hearty applause for a job well done. I even had the opportunity to assist in “sanitation control” by pitching trash, although I think our “Refuse Recovery Engineer,” nicknamed Tadpole, was unimpressed by my back swing!
Steam Engineers

Jim Vouk, 703, County Road 2 S., St. Stephen, MN 56375, is proud that three of his sons and two daughters are licensed steam traction engineers. The family is pictured with the Vouk family’s 80 Case. From left: Jim (at the steering wheel), Jason, Jamie, Alison, Molly and Frank. These five share duties of operating their engine at the Stearns County Pioneer Club Pioneer Days Threshing Show, Albany, Minn., while Jim supervises.

Ashcroft Pressure Gauge

Rick Jewell, Spokane, Wash. (e-mail:, has written to tell us that an article helped him along with dating his pressure gauge. Rick writes:

I recently salvaged an Ashcroft pressure gauge along with a steam whistle from an old powerhouse that was used to supply power for cable cars. The building was built in 1892 and the last cable car was run in 1936. The gauge has a trademark dating to between 1878 and 1897 according to the article in Steam Traction, July/August 2005, page 16. Thanks for providing valuable information. The whistle works great, and along with the gauge should make an interesting historical piece. The gauge seems to need a new spring as it is reading 110 pounds. 

If you have a comment, question or reminiscence for Past and Present, please send it along to: Steam Traction, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265;

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