The Golden Roll

| September 2005

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    Kenneth William Kelley
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    Austin Monk (left) and Carl Tuttle on Willis Abel’s 1913 40-120 Geiser-Peerless at Somerset, Va., in 2002. (Photo by Mark Corson.)
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    Alan Derting (left) and his 25 HP Canadian Special cross-compound Reeves, which he regularly used as his plowing engine.
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    Unknown Photo #3 (left): The geared set works showing the company name, A.B. Farquhar Co. Limited, York, Pa.
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    Unknown Photo #1 (left): Close-up view of the sawmill’s pulley.
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    Unknown Photo #2 (below): A view of the Farquhar sawmill setup housed in its current building.
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    Unknown Photo #4 (below): The Allis-Chalmers 6-cylinder engine that is used to power the sawmill.
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    Unknown Photo #5 (bottom): The Farquhar sawmill was used to saw the lumber, which currently houses the sawmill.
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    Alcock Photo #1 (left): The Locomotive Q1, recently removed from the Bluebell Railway and now on show in the Railway Museum, York.
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    Alcock Photo #2 (below): South Eastern Railway No. 65, 0-1 class 0-6-0, built in 1896. Restored by the Bluebell Railway to operating condition.
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    Alcock Photo #3: A view down the line, showing the unspoiled countryside through which the railway runs.

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Kenneth William Kelley, 86, passed away May 5, 2005. He was born on May 16, 1918, in Pawnee, Okla. He was the youngest of 11 children. Many people referred to him simply as "KK." He married Nellie Minerva Ellington on Nov. 26, 1941. She preceded him in death on Dec. 8, 1999.

At the end of 8th grade he came to Pawnee to go to high school and graduated with the class of 1936.

His father and brother opened the Kelley Equipment Store selling John Deere equipment in 1937, and Kenneth was the mechanic. He was known as the best hay baler mechanic in the country, and was extremely knowledgeable in the repair of antique equipment.

He was a member of the Osage County Cattlemen's Assn. and president of the Pawnee County Cattlemen's Assn. from 1966-1968. He was president of the Pawnee Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Pawnee County Democratic Chairman.

In 1969 he bought his first 45 HP Case steam engine to restore. He had attended the Oklahoma Steam Engine Assn. gathering in Waukomis, Okla., which had begun in 1965. He talked with the people in the association and contacted the City of Pawnee to obtain a site to have the show. In 1973 the show was moved to Pawnee, where it has become one of the best in the United States.

At one time he owned the full line of Case steam engines, restoring each of them. He also had a narrow gauge steam train in his back yard, and all of his grandchildren played on it as they grew. This was later taken to the steam park, a railroad track was built and the steam train operated during the show. He also liked buying antique cars. His latest project was a 1925 Model T truck, which he purchased this spring, and was in the process of restoring.

He also attended many other steam engine shows in the United States. Minerva's name is on the memorial wall of the Rollag, Minn., steam thresher's association.

He married Norma Davis Greene on June 3, 2000, in North Carolina. They continued to be active in farming and restoring antique equipment, restoring an antique Model T truck and a John Deere Model D tractor, as well as working on some steam engines.

Kenneth is survived by his wife, Norma, of Pawnee; four daughters, Betty Nell Dennis; Janice Bryant; Annetta Franks; and Cindy Jennings; 17 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; two brothers, Floyd and Warren; and two sisters, Alice Benes and Thelma Stewart.

- Submitted by Mark A Corson, Crown Point, Ind.

John Alan Derting, 53, Everett Lane, Ky., died April 5, 2005, at his home of natural causes. A native of Farmville, Va., he was born Dec. 22, 1951.

Alan was a member of our Reeves fraternity. He visited me a few years ago in Kansas, wanting to put his tape measure to certain features on my Reeves 25 HP double-simple engine. Last fall he invited me down for a fall steam plow event that he actually delayed a week from its original scheduled out of courtesy to me. Alan owned a similar Reeves to mine, except it was a cross-compound engine.

While visiting Alan, I photographed and videotaped an amazing event. He plowed most of the day with his Reeves engine and a Cockshutt engine gang plow. He and friends worked the engine to its maximum. I doubt that anyone else for 75-plus years has steam plowed so seriously for the duration he did.

In 1987, I wrote the obituary for a dear friend, Haston St. Clair, in Iron-Men Album. Haston wrote the "book" on Reeves engines and their history, and hardly a day goes by that I don't think of him. Probably the same will occur with Alan. Both men were so passionate about Reeves engines.

Survivors include his wife, Karen Blount Derting; five sons, George, John Bo, Peter, Elijah and Valiant; two daughters, Mary Grace and Patience; and three sisters, Terry Derting, Murray, Tenn.; Sandra Woods, Cooksville, Md.; and Barbara Amaya, Felton, Del.

- Submitted by Mark Ohlde

Austin Monk, 91, passed away June 3, 2005, at the Immanuel Lutheran Home in Kalispell, Mont.

He was born John Austin Monk on July 16, 1913, in Kalispell. He married Mildred Knutson in 1938 and was preceded in death by her in 1996.

His younger years were spent ranching and in the timber industry, first cutting ties in his sawmill and later as a logger. He raised cattle in Pleasant Valley, Mont., for most of his life at the ranch he built from scratch. He and Mildred blasted a canal with dynamite to drain the meadows, and then cleared the willows and trees to make his hay land. The ranch at Pleasant Valley is where he liked being the most.

He also did stints in the oil fields, as a road builder and a heavy equipment operator.

He owned and operated the Raven Mine in Thompson Falls, Mont., for many years. Austin liked prospecting, even searching several times for the Lost Dutchman Mine in Arizona. He had several mining claims in northwestern Montana and was a past president of the Montana Mining Assn.

He had a lifelong fondness of guns, and was well known as a marksman at the black powder shoots. He was known for his love and knowledge of steam traction engines. He had quite a collection that he assembled over the years, and was at many of the plowing and steam shows, both in Montana and also in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Oklahoma.

He is survived by his daughter, Janet Monk, of Kalispell; and his brother, Bob Monk, of Pleasant Valley. He is also survived by 12 grandchildren, numerous great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins.

- Submitted by Gary Yeager, Kalispell, Mont.

Denny has gone on to a better place, but our memories of him shall long exist. Our loss as a club is great, but it is not nearly as great as the loss that his family feels.

He shall be missed in many fields, not only in the steam engines but also many others, as well. He did a lot of hunting and other shooting over the years. He liked to go ice fishing, he enjoyed bowling and other sports as well. He really enjoyed fixing things for himself and others. It will be hard for many of us not being able to stop at his shop and visit of an evening or weekend.

So, I shall say so long, and every time I hear a steam whistle blow a part of me will remember our wonderful friendship.

His wife of 41 years, three daughters and six grandchildren survive Denny. May God bless them all and help them in their time of pain and loss.


Editor's note: Truth be told, I'm something of a pack rat: I save everything. Which doesn't explain how I lost the envelope containing the letter that appears below. My apologies to the author; I promise to give proper identification next issue if you'll contact me upon reading this.

I have been a subscriber to the Steam Traction publication since the mid-1960s.

I read with interest the article by Wayne Murphy titled Ajax Portable (March/April 2005 and May/June 2005). The thing that caught my eye the most was his statement that he has not been able to find a sawmill manufactured by the A.B. Farquhar Co. in the northeast.

I had no idea that a Farquhar sawmill would be hard to find. I happen to have one, and I am sure there are more. My father and uncle found this mill in the woods with trees and brush growing through it in the mid-1940s. All that was left was the iron parts. They brought it home and rebuilt everything into working order, and used it until about 1956 when the building housing the mill was destroyed by a hurricane.

"Denny had several steam engines. The first engine he and his dad obtained was a 16 HP double Nichols & Shepard. That was when I first met them."

My uncle then moved the mill to his property where he ran it with steam power until about 1970. Then, not having much use for the mill, he sold it to a neighbor. The neighbor moved the mill to his farm where he set it up, but did not seem to be able to make it work. He then sold it to his brother who moved it several miles to his farm where he set it up.

My father and I talked off and on during the 1980s about finding a sawmill since we both had an interest in having one. So we started looking, and after quite a few inquiries we were able to track down the Farquhar that my father had run many years before.

I was able to purchase the mill in 1988. It had sat in a field being unused, and it had small trees and brush growing up through it. The wood was nearly all rotted away, again. So, we gathered it up, and took it to my farm where my father and I spent the winter rebuilding it.

Spring finally came and we poured a concrete base for the main frame. We set posts for the tacks and skid way. The day finally came for a test run. We belted up my 1936 Minneapolis-Moline Model J tractor and sawed a few small logs. We were lucky that we didn't have to make any adjustments.

We got some logs and sawed the lumber to build the building that now houses the Farquhar. I power the mill with an Allis-Chalmers 6-cylinder engine, the same as the D-19 tractor uses. We use the mill enough to keep busy.

Since my father is 87 years old and I am 60 we don't break any records with the amount we saw, but we sure do enjoy it.


Sheila Alcock of the United Kingdom has sent us great information on England's heritage railways. Sheila writes:

This weekend, we took a train ride. Amazingly, the carriages were immaculate, and there were plenty of seats. No hassle, no jostling and a compartment all to ourselves. We were visiting a heritage railway, staffed mostly by volunteers, every one of them keen to show off their trains.

When Lord Beaching axed almost 2,000 railway stations in the United Kingdom, which also meant the loss of hundreds of branch lines, there was uproar. The cuts went ahead anyway, and many of the disused railways have been converted into cycle tracks, or formed the basis for new roads. But, incredibly, the number of heritage railway projects increases every year. Recent ventures include the Exmoor Steam Centre in Devon, and the Great Northern and East Lincolnshire Railway at Ludborough, near Grimsby.

If you've always wanted to drive a train, now you can. Take a Footplate experience course on the Amerton Railway in Staffordshire, or a Driving Experience course on the Bodmin and Wenford Railway in Cornwall. At Sheffield Park, in Sussex, there are Clive Groome's Footplate Days and Ways. All over the country, derelict wayside stations and railway lines are being brought back to life by dedicated enthusiasts who give their time and labor to restore locomotives, rebuild track and preserve our railway heritage.

The Bluebell Railway at Sheffield Park in Sussex was the first standard gauge passenger line to be taken over by enthusiasts. Their love of steam is infectious and their attention to detail meticulous, no matter how much work is involved. Rebuilding railways is expensive, and volunteers work hard raising money to fund new track and equipment. Last Christmas they had their most successful season ever, including the sale of 16,000 mince pies and 17,500 drinks, all distributed by volunteers on the Santa Specials.

The journal of the Bluebell Railway recalls the very first Santa Special, which was run on the Bluebell Line in 1962. Another first, in 1964, was the Christmas Belle, with 800 passengers on board, which ran on Boxing Day. Despite a fresh fall of snow and icy conditions, the train set off, with Christmas carols ringing out over snowy fields as passengers enjoyed the buffet service.

The ticket office is original, full of enameled advertisements for Swan Vestas matches and Marmite. And in winter, the old waiting room has a roaring fire to ward off chills. A uniformed official punches your cardboard ticket with a whistle and you board a train so immaculate, you can see your face in the paintwork. The doors slam, the steam momentarily obscures your view from the window, and you're off, chugging through fields full of horses and sheep, until your reach your destination.

You can take a first-class ride from Sheffield Park to the villages of Horsted Keynes or Kingscote, and revel in the blue velvet seats and immaculate condition of the separate carriages. Or take a seat in the Golden Arrow Pullman for dinner, most Saturday evenings, or luncheon service most Sundays. If you take your ride in the observation car, you can enjoy panoramic views of the Sussex countryside, and there's a Victorian bar/buffet if you're feeling thirsty on arrival at Horsted Keynes. Filmmakers love the Bluebell Line for its Victorian atmosphere, and parts of the Railway Children were filmed here. More recently, the Tweenies arrived, learning about "Going Underground."

At Sheffield Park station there are engine sheds open to visitors, filled with locomotives undergoing repair and restoration. Steam engines have names like The Earl of Berkeley or Sir Archibald Sinclair. One of the oldest locomotives is 130 years old, and the first BR Standard 9F 2-10-0 heavy freight locomotives to be restored on a heritage railway site was at Sheffield Park, and took 12 years to complete, including the construction of a new tender body in the railway workshop.

There's a museum and a model railway, with tunnels and trains to delight the smallest child, and a buffet and a shop selling books and models. You can park at the station, or the overflow park on the other side of the road. The railway is named after the bluebells, which grow in abundance on the banks and woodlands adjoining the track. If you visit in May, the flowers are yet another dimension of the railway to take your breath away. This is a world where you can lose yourself in the tranquility of the Victorian atmosphere, and marvel at the skill and craftsmanship of the engineers of that time. Even the surroundings of this railway line are delightful. Just outside the station, you'll find a riverside walk where you can round off your day by watching the ducks and having a picnic

For information on heritage railways, with timetable supplement: Railways Restored - the best selling guide to heritage railways throughout the United Kingdom. Bluebell Railway; (01825) 723777; e-mail:

If you have a comment, question or reminiscence for Past and Present, please send it along to: Steam Traction, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265;


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