The Joy of Steaming
One day in 1950 the late Lyman Knapp and I set out in a 1936 Chevrolet truck from Blackwell, Okla., bound for Utica, Neb., to load a 10 HP C. Aultman steam traction engine that Lyman had purchased at a farm sale.
On our return trip with the C. Aultman, we stopped along North Broadway in Wichita, Kan., to visit our mutual steam friend Kenny Reynolds who owned a 65 HP Case. Although Kenny was home, the Case wasn't, and Kenny told us he had sold the Case to brothers Harold and Herb Ottaway, who had moved the engine to Joyland Hillside Park, an amusement park the Ottaways' owned in south Wichita.
Kenny called out to the park and told the Ottaways that two fellows from Oklahoma were at his machine shop with a steam engine on their truck. Kenny invited the Ottaways out to his shop, and some 30 minutes later Herb and Harold drove up in their pickup. This was the start of a friendship that lasted over 50 years.
Steaming at Joyland Park
Lyman and I lived in rural Blackwell, Okla., and our farms were not over a quarter-mile apart. Not two weeks had passed since meeting Herb and Harold when they came down from Wichita to visit us in Oklahoma and see our engines. Herb and Harold had a great interest in steam, and they were interested in starting a steam show. That visit sparked the creation of the Antique Engine and Threshers Association at Joyland Park in Wichita.
An ad for 1952 Joyland Park show from the July/August 1952 Iron-Men Album. The big news for 1952 was the show's re-enactment of the famous Case incline.
The first show at Joyland Park was held in 1951, and now-legendary steam fans such as Marcus Leonard, E.C. "Big Mac" McMillan, Roy Kite, "Professor" Vaden H. Stroud (he was actually a school teacher, but everybody called him Professor), Allen and Harry Trego, R.D. Yoder and Glenn Garrabrandt heard of the plans to start a steam show and came for the event. The Ottaways' built a Prony brake for the show (construction started less than a week before the show), kicking off some of the greatest Prony brake battles of all time between Big Mac with the 65 HP Case and Glenn Garrabrandt engineering Lyman Knapp's 25 HP Russell, engine no. 17105. I can recall no better engineer than Glenn Garrabrandt.
The 1951 show was small, but by 1952 the Ottaways had purchased several more engines and other steam men showed up with engines of various makes. To make the show even better, the Ottaways built the first incline since the famous Case inclines of the early 1900s, reliving the days "When Steam Was King."
Harold designed and built the incline based on specifications supplied by Big Mac, specifications that dated to the 1903 St. Louis World's Fair where the incline was set at a 56-percent grade. Big Mac prepared his 40 HP Case (no. 31393) for the show, an engine he referred to as the world-famous "Elgin Watch" 40. This engine went on to an incline career that lasted 50 years. I had the honor of backing her off the incline in Pawnee, Okla., May 2002, almost 50 years to the day when Big Mac put her on top at the Joyland show in 1952.
Roy Kite watches Harold Ottaway running Lyman Knapp's 6 HP 1890 Russell at Lyman's farm outside of Blackwell, Okla., in 1952. Harold's son, Hal, is sitting on the water tank.
Members of the original Antique Engine and Threshers Association board of directors at Joyland Park, Wichita, Kan. Front row, left to right: George Arnett, Lyman Knapp, Harold Ottaway, Chady Atteberry. Back row, left to right: Owen Reece, Herb Ottaway, Roy Kite, Vaden H. Stroud. The two men standing to the left were not on the board. They are Everett Rhorer (facing camera) and Ivan Middleton.
The 1952 show was maybe the best ever. Big Mac thrilled the crowds on the incline, the Prony brake test warmed up in a hurry, and several makes of engines engaged in friendly competition. Harold had purchased a late 75 HP Case and asked me to run it. With Big Mac's coaching, I was able to keep the 75 at the top of the incline.
The 1952 show witnessed some big names in attendance such as the Rev. Elmer Ritzman, editor and founder of Iron-Men Album; Tom Smith, editor and founder of Engineers and Engines; Ray Ernst, first president of Old Threshers, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa; and Leroy Blaker, founder of the National Threshers Association. And of course other important steam people were attracted to the show the men who owned and ran steam when steam was king. As Harold said, 'These were the good old boys.' They loved their steam engines, of whatever make, but they've all passed on to the Big Reunion in the sky.
Herb and Harold Ottaway, and Big Mac and I, attended the 1952 Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, show together, and Herb, who had bought a new Ford car, drove us there. Big Mac sat in the front seat with Herb, while Harold and I sat in the back. This was a very exciting time for all of us, and we got to meet steam men from all over the United States. Leroy Blaker was there, as well a Gilbert Enders. You young fellows won't remember Gilbert, but he had the 'Mighty Little' late butt-strap 30 HP Case at National Threshers that out-pulled engines of much larger ratings. Gilbert and Leroy did the hot brake test; Leroy with a 32 HP Port Huron simple and Gilbert with an 80 HP Case.
The Kansas show continued to grow in 1953, with more collectors coming to see the brake test and watch engines on the incline. Harold purchased a 110 Case that year, and compared to current prices engines were cheap in those days: Harold paid $375 for the 110.
Harold also purchased a real nice 22 HP Wood Bros. that same year, and F.J. Wood of Wood Bros. fame attended the show with his daughter, Helen. I remember Mr. Wood climbing up on the Wood Bros. engine and reversing it several times: it never stopped on center. 'I built it that way,' Mr. Wood said. Mr. Wood was the only steam engine manufacturer I was able to meet. Dad was a service man for Wood Bros. and followed the harvest from Pond Creek, Okla., to Montana.
We had another engine at the 1953 show that, for its size, put on a wonderful show and pull on the brake. It was an 18 HP under-mounted Avery that belonged to uncle Jake Yoder of Yoder, Kan. Uncle Jake purchased the engine new in 1907. I remember Dad telling me about an 18 HP under-mounted Avery threshing around Yoder, Kan., long before the shows started. Uncle Jake had patented his own valve gear, and it was on his engine. It was an early engine that came from the factory with 'D' valves, and he put Baker piston valves in it.
Justin Hengtgen and Louis David were at the 1953 show. Justin had one of the largest collections of steam in the U.S., and I expect he put on the greatest steam show in history. Louis David was a nephew of Henry Ford. Louis and Justin loved under-mounted Averys, and they owned big 40 HP under-mounted Averys and smaller Averys. I currently own Louis' 20 HP Alberta Saskatchewan Special.
When uncle Jake put the 18 HP 1907 under-mount on the brake it made a wonderful pull and show. Louis and Justin were very impressed with both the Avery and uncle Jake.
The last show at Joyland Park was in 1959. Harold retired from the park in the early 1960s and turned his attention to collecting and restoring steam and gas tractors and engines, amassing quite a large collection. The story goes that a man stopped by Harold's place one day to look at Harold's collection. Looking it all over, the man asked Harold what he was going to do with everything. Harold responded that he was going to restore all of it. The man asked Harold if he planned on living to be 150. That didn't stop Harold from adding to his collection.
Harold had two major projects. First was hunting down the parts needed to put together a Hart-Parr Little Devil. Once completed, it was the only one known to exist. That project took several years.
Harold's second - and biggest - project was putting the six-cylinder Emerson-Brantingham Big 4 tractor together. This required years of hunting and making parts. The engine itself had lain in a river for years, and ice had broken it up badly. I am afraid to name all the people who helped Harold make that project possible. I do know that Jerry Abplanalp, Wichita, Kan.; Dan Cist, Quinter, Kan., and John Hall, Cape Girardeau, Mo., were the major people who helped Harold complete the project.
In later years, some of Harold's close friends and fellow hobbyist took him to shows. Joe Harper of Sedgwick, Kan., took Harold to the Crosby, N.D., and Pawnee shows many times, and Joe and Harold helped each other on several restorations.
It would be unfair not to mention John Tysee of Crosby, N.D., and Bill Krunweide of Voltaire, N.D., who were both dear friends of Harold and went on many engine-hunting trips across the U.S. and Canada with him.
Vince Chapman of Tulsa, Okla., became one of Harold's closest and best friends in Harold's later years. Vince and Harold worked together on gas engines, and often traveled together. Vince, a much younger man, took Harold to Rollag, Minn., several times.
Harold (center) visits with Vince Chapman (left) and jerry Toews at the Pawnee, Okla., show May 3, 2003. This was Harold's last show.
Harold loved early IHC tractors and engines from the 1910 to 1920 era. Dave Boomgarden of Chatsworth, Ill., invited IHC collectors interested in early tractors and engines to his farm, and Harold and Vince looked forward to this get-together every year. I got to go with Harold one year when Vince couldn't make the trip, and as we traveled to the show Harold and I had a wonderful visit about the old days of the Joyland shows.
Many times when we would go to dinner while visiting Harold I tried to pay. Harold would never allow it. He would always say, 'Mrs. Ottaway gave me some money this morning and said, 'Harold, you buy Chady's dinner.''
Harold, who was born Dec. 30, 1917, passed away Sept. 2, 2003. I feel greatly blessed for the more than 50 years of fellowship Harold and I shared. Harold had many, many friends and a wonderful and loving family. He leaves behind his wife, Evelyn, his son, Hal, and his daughter, Sally.
Contact steam enthusiast Chady Atteberry at: 931 Robin Road, Blackwell, OK 74631.