(The article ‘Steam at Stonelick’ is about the
collection of steam engines by my father-in-law, Mr. Clarence
Ragland. The man in the various pictures is Mr. Ragland.)
Driving east of Cincinnati, Ohio, along U.S. Route 50 you’ll
find nestled in the Little Miami River valley a small community
called ‘Stonelick’. Here Clarence Ragland operates a large
grain farm. But his real love is for the smoke, grime, and noise of
his steam engines.
Love for steam engines goes back to Mr. Ragland’s childhood.
At that time everything was done by steam. Threshing and silo
filling were especially exciting to him and his brother. He recalls
how they would think of every way possible to get on or close to
the steam engine. On one occasion, at the age of seven, Mr. Ragland
became a hero. This is the way he tells the story.
‘I was on the engine and the engineer had gone up to the
silo cutter to grease it. Something broke and was tearing up the
machine. Somehow I got the engine stopped. I thought I was a big
Additional steam interest grew in Mr. Ragland’s heart as a
child. While playing around the long switch of the N and W
railroad, located on the home farm, he and his brother used to talk
to the engineers. Somehow they were able to convince some to let
them ride from one end of the switch to the other. The mile walk
back didn’t seem long at all.
Today in a museum-like farm shop one finds sixteen steam engines
and an assortment of pumps, motors, generators, locomotive
headlamps, bells and whistles. One of the most useful is a 5′ x
5′ horizontal steam engine coupled to a 5 kilowatt A.C.
Generator. The power generated can be used to run shop machines
such as the lathe, shaper, milling machine, and drills. This 5′
x 5′ engine was secured, as most were, from the junk yard. It
was covered with water in the big 1937 Ohio River flood. The engine
today doesn’t look like it was in such bad condition that Mr.
Ragland had to shape patterns and cast parts to rebuild it.
Steam is kept in the shop from November to April in an
automatically controlled 10 H.P. stoker fired Lattner vertical
boiler. With his steam hobby, he has secured and maintained a First
Class Stationary Engineers License. He jokes that this license
gives him the authority to fire his 3/4′ scale model of a 4-8-4
coal burning locomotive secured some years ago.
Smallest engine in the shop is a 5/8′ bore horizontal type
engine with a fraction of a horsepower. The origin of the engine is
unknown. Largest of all engines is a 22 H.P. Keck-Gonnerman
traction engine. This is coupled to a Huber separator.
A little marine engine has the distinction of coming from the
most unusual place. This one came from the bottom of the Ohio
River. It originally ran an auxiliary electric generator on a
government dredge boat which sank. Mr. Ragland believes his two
most unusual engines are the Dayton steam automobile engine and a
vertical engine made in England.
Latest additions to the collections are a 10 H.P. horizontal
return tube boiler and an American Hoist and Derrick Company double
drum hoisting engine. He plans to build the boiler up in brick and
use a stoker for firing. As for the hoisting engine that is a
rebuilding project for this winter. It has been outdoors for
several years. Many of the parts have been freed but it will take
considerable effort to put it into working order.
Mr. Ragland also has another hobby. He is a ham radio operator.
Anyone who would like to talk by the air waves should contact him
on the radio by calling K8JTZ.
You are always welcome at the Clarence Ragland shop. Any steam
fan will find a treasure of steam history located at 1416 Binning
Rd., R. D. 1, Milford, Ohio, 45150.