By Helen Virden, Rt. 4, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa
Power giants of another era steamed up for action at the Midwest Old Settlers and Threshers Reunion at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, August 31st through September 4th. This Reunion in its 18th year centers around the age of the 'Iron Men' of agriculture, the most romantic period of our farm history.
More than a hundred steam engines, large and small huff and puff their way around the more than a hundred acres of grounds.
The first steam show in Mt. Pleasant featured only fifteen engines but now it has grown to the largest steam festival in America. The drawing power of this celebration of steam is in the action. Action is everywhere.
It is one thing to see one old steam engine in a museum. It is quite another to see a hundred of them lumbering about doing the work they once did on the farms in America.
You can see them sawing logs into lumber; threshing grain, running an old-time 'merry-go-round 'and making shingles. They also furnish the power for the Corliss engines and the sorghum press and cooking vat.
The engineers of these giant power plants try their skill and the engine's muscle against the 'Baker Fan'; test their horse power on the 'Prony Brake' and the 'hill climb'.
Each day of the Reunion they show off in all their power and glory in a cavalcade before a capacity crowd in the amphitheatre.
No one understands the lure of steam power. It just is. The proof of the fascination it holds for young and old is that more than 200,000 visitors drop in at Mt. Pleasant each year to see them.
Steam is in action too, at the Midwest Central Railroad. An 1891 Baldin wood-burning locomotive pulls several cars of thrilled youngsters and adults around the mile long track. You can board it at the authentic depot or at the roundhouse.
The history of steam is a thrilling story of yesterday. The first steam engine made in America was a single cylinder one. It was drawn and guided by a team of horses. Next came the steam engine guided, powered and propelled by itself.
In this development of steam we have the double cylinder, the compound and the reverse; the upright and horizontal boilers, direct and return flues and top mounted and undermounted.
Some of the early engines burned straw, some wood and others were coal burners. They were all a part of the steam era.
When the whistles of the steam giants blow their ear-splitting call to dinner every farmer can conjure up a picture of that hungry, dust-covered crew, we called the 'threshing ring'. They took turns washing up at the tin wash tub beside the well.
Remember how the new members of the 'ring ' 'were the 'fall guys' for the old practical jokes. Somehow it was considered good fun to steal a pin from a doubletree, nail a hat to the wash-up bench or bribe the 'water boy' to 'salt the jug'.
There is an old settlers village complete with country store, church, school, blacksmith shop, tavern and bank. Antiques are on display and for sale. Most of the entertainment is free for your one membership button that costs one dollar to come and go as you please.
The whole reunion is an experience in realizing our farm heritage and reflects the golden era of farming.
The atmosphere is one of a family picnic and is remembered long after the last whistle blows to end the reunion.
God bless the master of this house, The mistress also. And all the little children That round the table go. And all the kin and kinsmen That dwell both far and near. We wish you a Merry Christmas, And a Happy New Year.
By Herbert W. Allgire, Sec. Mason-Dixon Historical Society
As you know, The Mason-Dixon Historical Society held it's Round-Up, at the new location, on the grounds of the Carroll County Museum. This was the first show we held at said place, and although moving our equipment and show items presented a mammoth task, with just a few exceptions we were ready, when September, 7th arrived. We had our usual fine eats, which found a fine demand. The soft drinks, apple butter, pastry, and novelties found a ready demand. Our exhibits were comparable to other years, with steam enignes and antique automobiles exceeding the average of past shows.
The weather too was average, although the Saturday crowd was chased home a little early, by the threat of rain. In fact we had a light rain. Sunday started out threatening but clearing came about noon and we had the largest crowd, in our history. Before closing time we had sold out of barbecue chicken, as well as many other of our eats. Our membership renewals had reached a good level and we had been told, by many that our new grounds were very satisfactory. Our workers were tired but all felt we had made a success of our new venture. Yes, we had a very satisfactory meet, from every standpoint, especially so, financially.
Already, we are planning to hold next year's show, at the same place. We are confident it will be, even bigger, and the crowds expected, will be large, as the new site is closer for Washington, D. C. and western Maryland visitors. We will be looking forward to seeing all our friends the week-end following Labor day. We were happy to have you folks call, this year and will be expecting to see you next year.
Sincerely, Herbert W. Allgire, Sec. Mason-Dixon Historical Society
By Mrs. Paul Giles, Route 1, Berryville, Virginia 22611
The Shenandoah Valley Steam and Gas Engine Association held its 1967 show on July 28, 29 and 30th near Berryville, Virginia. The Horse Show Grounds 'on Route 7 was the scene of three day of steamin' up', meeting old friends and making new ones.
R. G. Bucklye and Ralph Lewin's big 'ZZ Peerless' - the largest ever made -held the interest of all who attended.
The Greencastle engine owned by William N. Waters of Damascus, Maryland created much attention. Many people remembered that it had been owned and used many years ago down the Valley in Strasburg.
The miniature steam railroad provided entertainment and rides for the youngsters and some oldsters! Also, Softball games and badminton matches were organized for the younger set.
The exhibit building housed many gas engines and models. The Williams Brothers of Front Royal showed several early engines they have beautifully restored.
Young and old were seen tapping their toes to the music of an old Wurlitzer band organ.
The blacksmith shop set up by Sam Osborne of New Oxford, Pennsylvania, held the attention of many as he made his souvenir horseshoes.
Ted Gowl's miniature sawmill sawed logs just as efficiently as the full scale ones. It is built to a one-fifth scale.
Displays of old pictures, ads and news articles were displayed by many people. One of the most interesting of these exhibits was by William Hall of Burtonsville, Maryland.
The 4-H Club girls in their long-skirted costumes added much to the atmosphere of the festivities and added to their treasury by selling sunbonnets they had made.
President Paul Giles large 7 X 10 Double Cylinder Frick Engine powered the saw mill a great deal of the time.
A. F. Brandt and his family were down with his Huber engine from Pennsylvania. Jimmy Brandt, his nine year old grandson, is proving to be an excellent engineer.
On Saturday night, a square dance exhibition was held by the Blue Ridge Twirlers. This club meets weekly in nearby Winchester.
Steam enthusiast, Charlie Hope of Arlington, Virginia, announced the events daily. He also added to his growing collection of steam show recordings.
This hobby seems to be spreading as more people are carrying portable tape recorders along to the shows.
Many people from neighboring states and shows attended and enjoyed the pleasant surroundings at the show site.
Plans are already underway for a bigger and better show on the same dates next year. A fall banquet was held November 4th with election of officers.