STEAM ENGINES Cavorting On The Hillside


| November/December 1989



Reeves

Wauseon Engine Show head Marvin Brodbeck's Reeves steam traction engine at Domino's Farms in 1988.

Domino's Farms 24 Frank Lloyd Wright Drive,P.O. Box 456 Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106

Smoke, soot and cinders were the order of the day when hundreds of nineteenth and twentieth century farm implements gathered around the picturesque old red barn at .Domino's Farms on Labor Day weekend, but this unique assemblage was not the usual meeting of threshers to take in the year's crop. The many steam traction engines were assembled at one farm to represent some of the largest and rarest behemoths ever to ply the fertile fields of American farmland in the last century and a half.

The shrieking whistles and belching smoke and steam created an atmosphere not seen on nearby farms since the advent of mass produced steam engines and other, smaller labor-saving devices on the farm and in the nearby factories.

Not just a static exhibition of replicas or models lined up along the pathways, the antique steam traction engines on exhibit Labor Day weekend were dark, iron monsters painted in the truest fashion of the hey-day of farming in America and they run! One of the most exciting scenes of all the many lively events of the weekend was the view of these gentle giants trundling along, up and down the hills of Domino's Farms, their slow and deliberate motions delicately handled by the man or woman at the tiny controls behind the steam boiler.

Giant Queen of the Fleet

As one of only five such engines known to still exist east of the Mississippi, Marvin Brodbeck's 32-120 Reeves Canadian Special was destined to be the hit of the Labor Day weekend show. Built in 1910 at the same Columbus, Indiana factory which manufactures the Cummins diesel engine today, Brodbeck found the engine in Judith Basin, Montana, where it had been rusting away since 1939. After 41 years of neglect, Marvin completely rebuilt the machine and had it in working order again by 1981. It's been the hit of every show since that time.