PIONEERING THE WEST


| March/April 1960


I was a lad of 17 summers. Sweeten brothers had ordered a 32 horse-power Reeves steam traction engine with full plowing equipment which was due to arrive in Malad City, Idaho, the nearest railroad to their ranch in Curlew Valley, a distance of 35 miles over a rugged mountain range.

We drove from Mendon, Utah, our home town, in a white top buggy and arrived in the terminus town at dusk. I did not stop for supper but rushed down to the station to see if the Reeves engine was there. Sure enough, she occupied the big flat car on which were several big boxes and a water tank all stamped, 'Reeves and Company, Columbus, Ind.'

To say I was thrilled would be expressing it mildly. I didn't sleep much that night and before day break, I was down to the railroad siding opening crates and placing the shiny brass boiler fixtures in their respective places and by the time Mr. Evans, the factory expert, could eat his breakfast and get down there I had her all ready for filling and firing-up.

I watched with eagerness the steam gauge raise and kept up a slow fire, oiled all the moving parts and filled hand oilers with cup grease as well as using what waste I had to shine up the pretty boiler trimmings. It was indeed an inspiring sight and presented a dream to my boyish ideals. I longed to pull the throttle and draw the whistle cord.



The others were busily engaged building a run-way of wood ties to roll the monstrous beauty off the flat car onto Mother Earth in the wilds of Idaho where the red man had but a few years previous held sway, and the coyotes howled and mountain lions ran at rampage unmolested except by some disturbance of a lonely hunter. The steam had now risen to 40 pounds and I announced the pressure by a gentle touch of the chime whistle cord and was instructed by Mr. Evans to open the globe valve and to warm up the cylinders as well as the valve oil. After a few moments of suspense, I gently opened the throttle and Oh! Boy! did she start off nice. --A little siss, alternate blows from cylinder cocks and she was rolling the large fly-wheel to a perfect balance. The sudden impulse of exhausting steam livened the fire and the steam crept up to 100 pounds pressure. On inquiry, I learned from Mr. Evans the safety valve was set at 150 pounds. Everything was now in readiness for the descent.

I watched with a heart of rapture and impulse of emotion with many other on-lookers, who had gathered to see the first Reeves engine drop or western soil. As the factory expert carefully engaged the gears and the drivers slowly rolled the huge monster of harnessed steam down onto the ground. It was really inspiring to see her safely landed and we were soon turned in a direction of Westward, Ho!














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