1339 Evergreen Drive, Twin Falls, Idaho 83301.
During the first part of October, 1969, my Case steam outfit was shipped from Bird City, Kansas, to Twin Falls, Idaho, via the Burlington and Union Pacific railroads. This was quite a memorable and unusual experience. For the past 17 years, the Case outfit had been stored at the Leone Kite farm near Bird City, Kansas, and displayed each year at the Antique Engine & Thresher Association steam show held on the Kite farm. The members of this association are the finest men and women I have ever had the pleasure to know and work with. The outfit consists of a 1915 Case 65 hp. steam traction engine, No. 33090, a 40' Case separator and a Case water wagon. Through arrangements made ahead of time with the carriers, a flat car was spotted at the Bird City loading ramp.
My son, Jim, and son-in-law, Wayne Stroup, and I steamed up the engine and drove it the 4 miles to Bird City pulling the separator and water wagon. After the outfit was loaded on the flat car, it was quite a job getting it tied down and ready for shipment which took several days. The new type CB&Q 60' flat car had roller bearings and shock absorber couplers. Flush with the floor of the car were 4 tracks running lengthwise of the car. On each track were 15 movable 3/8' log chains which could be locked in place anywhere along the track. Each chain was 8' long with a shock absorber link and ratchet tightener. Approximately 55 of these log chains were used to tie the equipment down along with blocks for each wheel. It would sure have been one big job to have fastened the equipment down with -out these movable ratchet chains.
There were certainly a lot of uncertainties in shipping the outfit by rail. The flat car was ordered several weeks ahead of time from the UPRR in Twin Falls. The outfit was to be loaded in Bird City after the Antique Engine & Threshers Ass'n. show was over on Oct. 4, 1969. It was not known what type or kind of car would eventually be available or when it would be spotted on the siding in Bird City. The only thing rather sure of was that the car would be 60' or longer since that was the minimum length that could be used. After I had been in Bird City several days, the car finally arrived. Thankfully, it was the previously described car and not just a regular old style flat car. It was not known what the actual cost of shipping the outfit by rail would be until after the equipment had arrived in Twin Falls. There are a thousand classifications, each with different freight rates that the railroads could use in shipping such equipment. Bird City is on the CB&Q and Twin Falls is on the UPRR which did not help matters any. The UPRR originally thought they would charge a different rate per hwd. for each piece of equipment. Therefore, each piece was weighted separately at a local grain elevator before the outfit was loaded. This presented a problem, since the engine was weighted under steam so it could be loaded under its own power and would be shipped with the boiler drained. The engine weighted 26,980 lbs. (13 tons) in working order and its shipping weight was 22,560 lbs. (11 1/3 tons) which was determined by the UPRR after weighting the loaded car in Denver while it was enroute. The separator weighted 9,540 lbs. (4 tons) and the water tank 1,640 lbs. The outfit was loaded on the flat ear Oct. 1, 1969, after which I headed for home. The load left Bird City, Kansas, Oct. 11, 1969, and arrived in Twin Falls, Idaho, Oct. 15, 1969. The carrier lost the loaded flat car while it was enroute for one week. Come to find out, it was still setting on the side track in Bird City. I tried for over two years without success to get some trucking firm to haul the outfit. The railroad carriers finally decided to lump the weight of the 3 pieces together and charge one flat rate per hwd. The freight bill was for 33,740 lbs. at $2.92 for a total of $985.21. It cost another approximately $400.00 to get the outfit loaded, unloaded and hauled to its present location 20 miles south of Twin Falls. The UPRR spotted the car in Twin Falls next to an end ramp. After the local trucker arrived, it was determined that the end ramp could not be used. The long extended shock absorber coupler on the end of the car would not permit it to get close enough to the ramp for the equipment to be unloaded by pulling it off. The gap between the end of the car and the ramp was too long to be bridged with the available material. It was too late to get the flat car moved to a side ramp.
Therefore, a crane with a 55 ton lifting capacity was used to take each item of equipment off of the flat car and set it on the low-boy truck. All three pieces of equipment arrived in perfect shape and after they were unloaded at the farm there was not even one scratch or dent anywhere.
Arrival of the steam outfit in Twin Falls drew a lot of attention. Station KMVT, channel 11, filmed the unloading operations and presented a television feature newscast about the outfit Sunday evening, Oct. 19,1969. The Times-News of Twin Falls had a full page story devoted to' the old steam rig along with many good pictures in their Sunday Feature Section of Nov. 2,1969, as evidenced by the following newspaper article. This is an excellent article written by Bonnie Baird Jones, Times-News Feature Editor. She writes with the knowledge of an ardent steam engine fan. As a result of the newspaper and television stories, I received many favorable letters, telephone calls and comments. The one that topped them all was from Mr. Mearl R. Metz of Twin Falls who used to haul water in Nebraska to this very same engine 35 years ago while it was being used by its former owner, Mr. Al Deerk.
I am a life insurance salesman for The Prudential Insurance Co. All of this nice publicity did not hurt my insurance business any as shown by the article in the Prudential company magazine 'Western Roundup.' I carry pictures of the old steam rig in my brief case which has helped sell a good many policies.
I certainly have enjoyed The Iron-Men Album Magazine from its inception. The staff members, have done a wonderful job and your magazine is the backbone of our steam engine hobby.
Every agent has his own way of getting an interview rolling. Salt Lake City S/A Melvin Kestler (Twin Falls Det.) does it by bringing up his hobby. Mel restores old steam engines like the 1915 Case steam tractor shown here.
'I always carry pictures of the old steam outfit in my briefcase. It's a great ice-breaker and has helped me close a good many cases like the recent pair of $50,000 Pro 50's - each with annualized premiums of $3,408 to a local businessman and his partner.
'Last year I even had a color photo of the rig printed on the Christmas cards I sent to all my clients and prospects. That got quite a few favorable responses.'
Exposure in the news media has been a great boon, too. Not only did Mel and his steam engine rate a full-page feature in the Twin Falls Times-News, they were also the subject of feature newscasts on two local television channels.