THE GALICK BROTHERS & THE OSGOOD No. 985

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Covered with brush, 7/4/85.
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Looking inside the cab, 7/4/85.
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Brush removed, 7/17/85.
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Jacked freeing the tracks, 8/18/85.
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Getting a push onto low bed, 8/18/85. Steve Galick on HD-6 dozer.
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Belly-hung on the bridge, 8/29/85.
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Galick brothers Tony(left) and Steve, 8/29/85.

Over The Hill Trucks 3 Haywood Avenue Rutland, Vermont 05701

Our principal interest, as our trade name indicates, is antique
trucks. For nearly three years Bob Giddings and I have followed up
on countless leads as we journeyed through the Vermont countryside
searching for old trucks. During the late winter of 1985 I was
talking with a farmer from Benson about the likelihood of finding
any chain driven trucks in the area. The only one which he could
remember was an International ‘high wheeler’, which hauled
canned milk from farms in the area. As he recalled, on one steep
hill, the driver had to unload the cans of milk, since the small
truck didn’t have power enough to make the grade. He would then
drive the truck to the top of the hill, and then carry the milk
cans up to the truck.

However, that truck had long since disappeared. The farmer went
on to say, that if there were any chain drives left in the area,
the Galick’s of West Haven would have them. So I made a note of
this particular lead, and decided to wait until the snow had
melted, the mud had dried, and the temperatures were a little
milder before I would check it out.

As it turned out, I made my first trip to the Galick
Brothers’ farm on July 4, 1985. It took me awhile to locate the
farm, since the only practical way to get there was to travel some
distance into New York State, and then reenter Vermont on to the
road which leads to their farm. As I slowly traveled down the
narrow dirt road, which was heavily overgrown with brush, something
caught my eye. It was protruding over the top of a clump of dense
sumac and grape vines. ‘No, it can’t be,’ I said to
myself as I backed up. However, there was no mistake, it surely was
a smoke stack.

So I got out of my car, walked over to the dense growth of
brush, and yet it wasn’t more than three feet from the edge of
the road. The boom was missing, but the rest was relatively
complete. The boiler, water tank, three steam engines, drive gears,
and levers were still inside the wooden cab. However, all of the
gauges, piping, and associated parts were gone. The unit was tipped
slightly down hill, with the roadside track having settled about
five inches below grade, and the field side track was almost ten
inches below grade.

I continued along to the farm. John Galick answered my knocks at
the door. John is the oldest of the brothers at 94. He suggested
that I talk with Steven (age 86) concerning the trucks. Steve was
out in the barn yard. I found Steve, wearing soiled coveralls, with
his hands covered with grease. He had been repairing some piece of
machinery. He told me that they did have a chain driven truck. It
was a 1913 Chicago Pneumatic. However, they had used its two
cylinder engine for their motor boat back in the 30’s. The only
remaining parts of the Chicago were the front wheels.

Steve and I talked for a considerable period of time, and I
learned much about these enterprising brothers. After I had checked
on an old Brockway in the upper pasture, I returned to the barn
yard to talk further with Steve. At that point Tony, the third
brother, arrived from checking on a damaged water line. Tony is 82.
I asked about the Brock-way, but soon our conversation turned to
the Osgood Steam Shovel.

Steve noted that they had built the road, almost three miles in
length, which I had traveled to the farm on. They had purchased the
shovel from the Ohio Power Shovel Company of Lima, Ohio on
September 4, 1931. The shovel had originally been used in the
construction of the Conklingville reservoir (NY). Then it appeared
on a street construction project in Whitehall, NY. When Steve found
the Osgood, the contractor was attempting to load it onto a railway
car in Whitehall. However the shovel didn’t have pressure
enough to climb the ramp on to the train. Moreover, the contractor
didn’t want to face the expense of overhauling the tubes. So
Steve contacted Ohio Power Shovel Co., and offered to buy it. He
closed the deal on September 4th, 1931, and purchased the complete
unit with payment of $600.

Steve made some hasty repairs to the steam shovel by simply
blocking off the damaged tubes. He and Tony fired the Osgood up
with coal, and headed through the streets of Whitehall to the
shoreline of South Bay on Lake Champlain. Since there weren’t
any roads into the farm, the only way to get the shovel to Vermont
was across the lake. They borrowed a flat bottom barge; loaded the
shovel on board; and pulled the shovel to the Vermont side with
their small motor boat (powered by the Chicago Pneumatic).

The shovel was used extensively for three years, as the
Galick’s built the road to their farm. It was fueled only by
firewood, which they cut on their property. During these years that
the shovel worked, it was tipped over once and had the cab
partially burned off on another occasion. Although Steve did
acquire a complete set of replacement tubes, they were never
installed. Eventually, during WWII, he sold the tubes to a nearby
contractor. Shortly after the road was completed, the shovel was
parked alongside the road, and it was never used again. For more
than fifty years it sat as a monument to its accomplishment of
building an ‘impossible’ road.

Listening to their story unfold it became quite clear that these
brothers took a great deal of pride in their accomplishment. I
asked Steve if they had any further plans for the Osgood. He
mentioned that he had thought of bringing the shovel down to the
barn yard. Never expecting that they would consider selling the
Osgood, I nonetheless asked the question. Tony quickly interjected,
‘Well, we don’t use it anymore…’ To my surprise it
was generally agreed that they would further consider the sale,
while I would discuss the matter with Bob. I knew that Bob would be
thrilled with the idea of owning the Osgood.

Two days later we returned to further talk with the Galicks
about the shovel. We also had to move the 1928 Brockway which we
purchased from them. After chatting for a few minutes, an agreement
to sell and a sale price were established. Steve firmly established
that he would take care of preparing the shovel for movement. He
would cut the brush and pull the shovel onto the road. Even though
we suggested that we should do that work, he persisted in his
viewpoints.

From that point nearly eight weeks would pass before the Osgood
was finally moved to its new home. The next time we visited the
farm, Steve had begun to cut the brush. This was around July 17th.
By August 1st the brush was completely removed, and for the first
time in years the cab was completely visible. In addition, Steve
had laid out a steel cable between two steel tackle blocks: one
chained to a sturdy tree, and one attached to the shovel. He had
attempted to pull the Osgood with his John Deere 4010, but the JD
was only able to nudge the big hulk forward about a foot. The
tracks would not climb out of their sunken beds, and it only plowed
ahead pushing dirt in front of it. It was not surprising that the
tracks were frozen solid after being parked for more than fifty
years.

Steve now realized that the shovel would have to be jacked up
from its sunken position and blocked up. He and Tony would
undertake this slow and strenuous process as temperatures allowed.
Moving heavy hydraulic jacks, heavy timbers, and jacking would not
be an easy task in 75 to 85 degree temperatures. Remember now,
these brothers are 86 and 82 years old. Yet no matter how much we
attempted to persuade them to allow us to do the work, they
continually insisted on doing it themselves.

In a way it was easy to see that the big machine was a part of
these two men. It meant very much to them. Over the years they had
several inquiries from people who wanted to buy it for scrap
purposes, but they turned these offers down quickly. It was as if
they seemed relieved to know that the old shovel would now be
preserved rather than destroyed.

On the 17th of August, Bob and I returned and worked with the
brothers jacking and blocking the shovel. A considerable amount of
time was spent freeing up the roadside track. We worked together
that day until the noon-time sun again made it too hot to work. As
we left, only the ditch side track remained to be freed. For the
next ten days, high temperatures and occasional rain prevented the
Galicks from doing any work. However, on Wednesday, August 28th, it
was ready to move. We decided that the following day would be the
moving day.

We had studied the planned moving route on several occasions
through which the over-sized load would pass. The shovel itself was
about twelve feet six inches in height. Naturally there were a few
low hanging telephone service cables to be contended with. However,
our major concern was the bridge crossing the Poultney River, which
connected the Galick built road to New York State. The turning
radius would be very tight for the Mack R Series tractor with its
low bed trailer. Nonetheless our measurements seem to establish
that it could be done by cutting some roadside brush to give us
more swinging room. The very real problem was the possibility of
getting belly-hung on the approach to the bridge. It would be real
close.

Thursday, August 29th, was a bright, fresh, sunny Vermont
morning. As we crossed the bridge, headed for the farm, we stopped
to check the clearance under the low bed trailer: less than one
inch! We knew but didn’t quickly admit to ourselves that we
were in trouble. Besides, there was no other way out, except the
way the Osgood had originally gotten in there. We continued down
the road, passed the Osgood, and continued on for another mile to
turn the truck around in the barnyard. As we returned to the
shovel, Steve and Tony had already begun to hook up the cables and
tackle blocks. When all was ready Steve fired up the JD 4010, and
pulled on the Osgood. It slipped easily from its fifty year old
parking place and rolled onto the road. Steve then used an
Allis-Chalmers HD-6 bulldozer to align the Osgood with the low bed
trailer. The blocks and cables were repositioned, and the JD-4010
pulled the steam shovel with ease onto the trailer. This entire
process was completed in less than forty mintues.

As we chained it into position, we also advised Steve of our
concerns about getting ‘belly-hung’ on the bridge. He and
Tony agreed to follow us with their small MF tractor, just in case
we got into trouble. We approached the bridge cautiously. Bob
allowed his big Mack truck as much swinging room as possible, and
headed onto the bridge. As he crept slowly forward we could see
that the trailer tires would run on the edge of the steep slope
along the river. Perhaps they would just kiss the concrete bridge
abutments. Then the truck eased to a hault with the sound of steel
scraping into the gravel road. Our fears were confirmed. The
trailer was belly-hung.

Although our better judgments told us this would happen, we also
speculated that the old shovels didn’t want to leave the farm,
or perhaps it didn’t want to go into New York State. Steve was
quick to head back with the MF tractor to bring the HD-6 bulldozer
to the bridge. When he returned with the dozer, he initially tried
to lift and push the trailer with the dozer’s bucket. This
didn’t work. Ultimately after experimenting with some other
techniques, we decided to place a plank ramp in front of the
trailer tires, and then push the trailer forward to get a more
uniform lifting and pushing force. This worked, and the Mack
lurched forward with its heavy load.

We bade farewell to the Galick Brothers. As we journeyed towards
the Osgood’s new home, we dodged all the low hanging utility
cables without any problems. However, as we crossed back into
Vermont, we weren’t able to dodge the scales, which just
happened to be open. The thing of it was, we didn’t know how
much the old shovel weighed. Needless to say, there were two bodies
in the cab of the Mack covered with a cold sweat. Much to our
relief, we were only given a quick visual check by the authorities,
and allowed to pass.

The rest of the trip was much less uneventful. The Osgood No.
985 was safely delivered, and is now awaiting restoration. Someday
smoke will again pour out of its smoke stack. Undoubtedly this will
follow countless hours of work. Although the boom was not attached
to the Osgood, it did come with the deal. It was found about a half
mile away from the Osgood, covered with vines and fallen rock at
the base of a cliff. Moreover, the twin cylinder steam engine
affixed to it was not damaged. When the Osgood is completely
restored, it will bear the names of the Galick’s, who owned it
for nearly 54 years. These brothers have been a living part of the
mechanized era all their lives. They purchased a 1911 Huber tractor
new. They owned a 1913 Chicago Pneumatic truck, a 1916 Federal, and
two 1916 GMC trucks. This really doesn’t begin to scratch the
surface. Moreover, they have managed to preserve some of this
antiquated equipment through the present time. An honest yet
simplistic opinion of the Galick Brothers is that they’re
incredible!!!

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