Steam Engine Stories

| January/February 1970

Box 137 Athens, Illinois 62613

I have been reading the Iron-Men Album since 1947 and I have enjoyed every issue. During the 22 years that I have been a reader, there have been a number of stories about accidents with steam traction engines. However, I have never read of an accident like the one that took place on the Clark Cobble dick farm 5 miles north of La Valle, Wisconsin in the year 1912. According to the account told me by my father, the threshing crew had finished threshing a setting of stacks in a field south of the buildings and were getting ready to move to another setting when the tongue in the separator broke. Mr. Cobbledick, the owner of the rig, hooked a log chain to the separator and since it was hilly ground, when he got in the engine and pulled it ahead the separator ran into the rear of the engine and crushed him. He died the next day.

About two years before this, a rather strange accident took place. The engine was a 14 Hp Star owned by Mr. Cobbledick (the same man mentioned above) and they were moving up the hill north of the buildings in the H.C. W. Lucht farm north of La Valle. Something went wrong with the clutch on the engine and it rolled backward and ran off the road. Mr. Cobbledick and my Uncle John Lucht, who was steering the engine, both jumped off and the engine kept rolling backward down the hill missing all the trees and landed in a creek at the bottom of the hill, Incidentally, according to those who witnessed this freak accident, the engine was still running when it was in the creek. The impact of hitting the creek bed crushed one drive wheel and it was used for a flower bed on the Lucht farm until the late 1930's. Mr. Cobbledick had another Star engine in a saw mill a few miles away so he got that and they continued threshing. Several days later the first Star engine was pulled out of the creek.


In the fall of 1931, La Valle township in Sauk County built a new section of road not far from our farm. My Dad helped on that road and one Sunday afternoon, we were out for a ride and he took us over to the site of the new road. I recall that Mr. John Gallagher of La Valle had his 20 Hp. Advance engine there and they used it to furnish steam to operate a rock drill. This is the only steam powered rock drill I have ever seen. Has any reader of the ALBUM ever had any experience with one?

The dearest object to a married man should be his wife but it is not infrequently her clothes.