Steam Engines I Ever Saw!


| January/February 1994


P. O. Box 476 Jamestown, ND 58402

I think the smallest steam engine I ever saw was in a creamery at Hannover, North Dakota. I didn't see the boiler, as it was in a separate room. They were near the lignite beds so I assume that was their fuel. I have no idea of the horsepower, but the engine looked as if, unbolted from the floor, a man might be able to lift it.

I believe the largest was an engine used to run the sawmill on the Red Lake Reservation at Redby, Minnesota. It had a flywheel I would guess was ten or twelve feet in diameter which ran a belt at least 12' wide. I believe that the engineer said it was fifty years old at that time. They ran green sawdust off the chain to the fire. Injector hose, presumably, hung in the lake. With the large diameter flywheel the engine ran so slowly the spokes in the flywheel could be counted. Engineer's wages and some steam cylinder oil was what it cost to operate.

There was work for several men on the mill. It has since been torn down and replaced by an all electric modern mill. It cost thousands of dollars and did away with jobs.

At a later date, I went to a thresher's show in Western Minnesota. The halves of a flywheel were there. The halves were bolted together. I mentioned that I had seen an engine like that at Redby, Minnesota. The man said, 'That is the one.' I never went back after they had it set up.

J. F. Ramage used to be a steam thresher at Langdon, North Dakota. I've heard much of his threshing rigs. I asked Walter, his oldest boy, how many machines his father had run at one time. Walter said four.