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Box 76, Devils Lake, North Dakota 58301

Two years ago I visited the office of the Engineers &
Engines in Joliet and met Mrs. Mary Louise Smith, a charming lady.
Last summer I stopped in Davis California and met Mr. F. Hal
Higgins and found him to be the most accommodating host in his
office and large collection of data on about all makes of steam
engines and other agricultural machinery. Have stopped twice at Mr.
Walter Mehmkes beautiful farm place in Montana where he gave me, a
complete stranger, the free run of his place to look over the large
collection of his fine machinery and although he is a busy man he
would stop to talk with me in a very friendly way and invited me to
stop in again when in that territory. This year on my way through
Pennsylvania I stopped in Enola to get acquainted with Mr. Ritzman
of the Iron-Men Album and see his new shop where he showed me his
collection of data also his engines and many other things of
interest to a machine man. He is a man generous with his time and
hospitality with a stranger. Now all these people that I have
mentioned have personalities of the highest class with honest and
friendly and true sociability starting from the first introduction
and handshake. I can never forget them. Really and truly fine
people. I am thankful to all of you.

I was raised here where we plow the long straight furrows and
before the combine era used to thrash a quarter section field in a
day setting in the morning, moving at noon to set for the afternoon
run and if the crop was heavy it sometimes took long after dark to
finish up the field although the machines hummed steady all day
stopping only for noon.

Enclosed is a picture of a Minneapolis 44 x 72 inch separator
powered with a Reeves 32 h.p. cross compound steam engine that I
ran in 1914 ’15 & ’16 for Mr. Herman Kalliokoski who
was one of the best thresher men in the great northwest where wheat
is king. That Reeves cross-compound would just whisper with the
toughest jobs. We fired with straw and you can tell that the
fireman knew his job as there is no smoke showing with the exhaust.
We kept the machines in the best of condition so there was very
seldom any delay in the field except some belt might slip off on
the separator when extremely crowded with heavy grain. We kept two
sets of belts in case of breakage. In threshing oats the weigher
could not begin to measure the bushels but had to be tied open so
the grain could run out continually. After a half days run the
straw pile would be crowding against the back of the separator. At
times a rain was appreciated so we could sleep longer in the
hayloft of a barn and listen to the patter of the rain on the roof.
Some call this the ‘big red barn district’ of the Red River
Valley. All threshing was done from the shocks which were sometimes
so thick that I had to run over them while driving the outfit into
the field. Every outfit here had a cook car along on the run set in
the farmers yard. The regular crew consisted of 12 bundle haulers,
4 field pitchers, 3 side pitchers, separator man with helper-oiler,
fireman, engineer, night watchman who filled grease cups, fixed
belts and kept steam up for the morning, two girls in the cook car
and the boss. The fall run was about 45 days work.

I told Mr. Ritzman that I would like to see a good picture of
the Minneapolis 45 h.p. double tandem compound steam engine. There
were only a few of these powerful engines made. I have seen only
one which I ran in 1919 after coming back from the army. It is
listed in F. Hal Higgins’ books but there was no picture of it.
The Minneapolis were not listed brake h.p. like the Case was
listing theirs which listing was used in gasoline tractors when
they started taking over.

I took a course in the Clarke School of Steam Traction
Engineering and overhauled engines, refluing boilers and ran
engines when in my ‘teens.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment