POWER GIANTS IN ACTION
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
Each day of the Reunion they show off in all their power and
glory in a cavalcade before a capacity crowd in the
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Steam enthusiast, Charlie Hope of Arlington, Virginia, announced
the events daily. He also added to his growing collection of steam
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.