By Neighbors for Historic Eaton & 'Back Street
RR 1, Box 124 Eaton, New York 13334
This year the small hamlet of Eaton celebrated its first Old Hometown Day on July 13th. The day brought back to Eaton something that has been missing for almost 100 years, a real steam engine and the shrill sound of a steam whistle.
The Old Hometown Day was put on by the people of Eaton to rally community spirit, to celebrate Eaton's rich history and to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of its small rural fire department.
The usual on these occasions, the parade, craft show, games, barbecue and band were fun, but certainly the most memorable part was the running of Danny Dale's S. W. Wood steam engine and the startling sound of its steam whistle at Eaton's first ever tractor and engine show.
The show, organized by Mike Curtis and the Neighbors for Historic Eaton, featured Danny Dale from Camden, New York, who was joined by the Central New York Chapter of the Pioneer Gas Engine Association, (TOYS) Tractors of Yesteryear and many others. Also on hand for the celebration was Stanley Davis who hauled his Economy hit and miss engine and gristmill all the way from Live Oak, Florida, to savor the history being made.
The day's only disappointment was its lack of a traction steam engine. A traction engine that was planned for the day, a 50 HP Case that belongs to Tommy Curtis, was unable to make it because of required repair work.
The group is hoping to plan another show in the future and to attract more actual steam engines, as in the 1800s Eaton was the home of the world famous Wood, Taber & Morse Steam Engine Works.
Tours of the Wood House Museum, which was the home of Wood Taber & Morse's founder, Allen N. Wood, also attracted a large enthusiastic turnout. Many visitors were history buffs interested in seeing a specially prepared exhibit of real artifacts from the famous company. Among the most notable were a steam gauge, letter box, a wooden pattern for casting one of the many geared wheels for the four wheel drive traction engine, many original advertisements and a number of original lithograph plates used in the printing of all the company's fliers and ads. (The bulk of the W, T & M artifacts were loaned by Morse relative, Ken Morse Sr.)
Also on hand for the celebration was Barbara Ferguson, the great granddaughter of Mr. Wood and many other Eaton ancestor notables including Bart Williams another Morse relative, who provided artifacts brought to Eaton by its founding family of Joseph Morse's in 1795.
Eaton historian and Wood House curator M. E. Messere said, 'This is a great day for Eaton, Mr. Taber's, Mr. Morse's and Mr. Wood's spirits must be around here somewhere and I know they're smiling!' 'Perhaps someday Wood, Taber and Morse engine will return to Eaton,' she sighed. 'Or at least we can hope!'