The early days of breaking prairie in Brown County, South Dakota, in 1907. Mr. L. S. Abbott, who owned the outfit said, 'I ran this outfit for six years and busted prairie sod of about 3400 acres in South Dakota. The ten plows gave it a load but I never stripped a gear. I usually started a breaking April 20th and worked until July 4th. Then threshed the season. I was brought up around a threshing machine as my Father, I think, owned the first steam engine in Brown County back sometime in the 80's. I can yet picture in my mind - a little chunk of iron with a large flywheel painted red and using a link chain for the drive on the engine.' (This was written January 7th, 1957, and Mr. Abbott was then 78 years of age.)
The Steamer was purchased new from the American-LaFrance Company, Elmira, New York, in 1903 - used at nearly all fires until 1925 when it was held in reserve as the Borough purchased a gas rotary pump engine. It is still used in nearly every parade, drawn by horses, and in the pumping contests that follow will still throw a stream well over 200 feet.
I snapped this picture just after a spring shower when it was very wet and think it is a good shot of an old steamer.
Plenty of folks have tried to buy the old-timer and some have wanted to put it in museums but the Company says 'no' to all offers. It is still in wonderful condition and any person going through Chambersburg can see it in its old 'stall' at the fire house on Broad Street, Chambersburg.
This is my nice Nichols and Shepard 16-60 steam engine, No. 13803. I bought this engine 5 years ago and overhauled it just the way I wanted it. I like it this way. I use it for sawing logs and for all kinds of parades. This engine is the only one in our county. Of all the steamers I had in my long threshing years, I like this the best! I operated 14 different steamers: Minneapolis mostly; also Case, Northwest, Baker, Huber, Buffalo-Pitts and Peerless. I started threshing in 1900 and threshed till 1953. This was the last year with steam. In 1955 I sold my steamer (a 20 hp Minneapolis, new in 1924) for $750. I thought this was a big price. But 2 years without a steamer was enough - I wanted to buy it back again. I offered him $1000 for the same engine and he thought that was a joke! He asked $1400 for it, so I looked around for some time till I found this Nichols and Shepard for $1050.