The Grand Old Steam Engines

| March/April 1960

Huntington, Indiana

There is something about the Grand Old steam Engines that remind me of the Grand Old Men of the Grand Army of the Republic that I used to watch parade when I was a boy. Those Grand Old Men had given their lives to the cause of their nation. There was only a few left of what was once a mighty army. Their life's work was practically finished. However, their great joy was to get together at their reunions and revel in reminiscent fellowship. Those relatively few men of the Grand Army impressed me as being very much alive and capable of enjoying and doing things. As I watched them march along, the flag ahead and their banners streaming, I was indeed thrilled and inspired. Mingled emotions of wonder and appreciation filled my heart. These men, and those that they represented had done so much for me.

The relatively few Grand Old Steam Engines of today represent a great army of steam engines that have been the most dominant and positive innovation of physical power and progress our world has ever seen. Steam engines on the rail, on the water, in the factory, and on the farm have perfected a hundred years of glorious achievement and unimpeachable history. Those few Grand Old Steam Engines still remaining assure us that they can be very much alive and are capable of doing things. As we see them in action we are thrilled and inspired. Mingled emotions of wonder and appreciation fill our hearts. We still think that they are the most wonderful invention we have ever seen. We wonder at the genius that invented them. And we appreciate what the steam engines, the men that made them, and the men that worked them have done for us. They have initiated a marvelous new age of power and machinery from the animal to the engine. We live in that new age. We are sure that the Creator created man in His own image and that a part of that image is the ability of man to create. When man's creation is something noble and benefits humanity as has the steam engine, then we may well be truly thankful.

Some of the old soldiers, when I was a youngster, were working every day at useful and important occupations. So today useful work is still being done by steam. Not all steam engines are dead or retired.

But now the Grand Old Steam Engines have something new to do. This something was undreamed of just a few years ago. The Steamers go to reunions. Now it is easy for me to be simple minded enough to think that the old engines, like the old soldiers, enjoy getting together. Just listen to them whistle and blow. Why, they never had more fun back in the good old days. Just watch them strut, push and pull. I tell you they are hot stuff. It's worth anyone's time and money to see the Iron Monsters perform. And people are getting wise to it too. Folks are coming from all over the country to attend steam conventions to look and to revel in reminiscent fellowship.

So let no more steamers be junked. If the needs of their labors have terminated, let them be placed in honorable and even luxurious retirement. There is a future for the Grand Old Steam Engines. They will continue to bring people together at the various Old Threshermens Reunions. This is a new and a good service the old engines are giving to society today. It is a good service because the Grand Old Steam Engines at the Old Thresher Reunions, provide a good and dramatic form of entertainment and education and are potentially marvelous friendship builders.


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