THE OLD STEAMERS CAME BACK TO THE NEW YORK STATE FAIR


| March/April 1960



Thousands of people saw an exhibit, demonstration, and parade of 'Steamers' of the good old days at the New York State Fair, Syracuse, N. Y., September 4th to 12th, 1959.

Not since the hey day of Steam Power on the farm has there been assembled at the State Fair such a collection of Historic Steam Engines. The event was a part of the State of New York 'Year of History' Program, and was a free feature at the big Fair which is under the direction of Harold L. ('Cap') Creal, a prominent farmer and Agricultural leader, whose farm home is located near Homer, N. Y.

The area provided by the fair authorities for the pageant was a paved field 200 x 750 ft. adjacent to the large Farm Machinery Building. The big show highlighted the machinery developed and used in the State during the past century. Recognition was given to the New York state pioneer farmers and small manufacturers who searched for new farming methods and machines to increase food production during the westward advance of the frontier. It was in this period, 1830 to 1880, that most of the modern machines were developed in crude and sometimes hand-made form, within the boundaries of New York State. Research has proved that the State is the birthplace of the great Farm Machinery Industry.

Many old timers came to look, stayed a while, then came back with their families to show them the kind of power that was used on the farm when they were kids. Nine Steam Traction Engines were in operation every day. No accurate estimate can be given as to the number of 'Old Time' Engine operators who were welcomed by the owners of the Historic Engines and who were permitted to pull the throttle just once more and drive the old Engine of their choice. A letter received after the fair from one gentleman said: 'I usually found five or ten former operators of Steamers around the old Engines and they could not drag themselves away. Besides them were hundreds who viewed and handled the engines lovingly. In ever knew anyone who really loved a Gasoline Tractor, but those old Steamers have been loved by almost everyone who had anything to do with them.'

Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy were a part of the free entertainment attractions at the Fair. Edgar spent some of his spare time visiting with the owners of the old Steamers and driving them to the delight of the large crowd. He said that his father was a Steam Engine Thresherman in Michigan when he was a kid. Now his hobby is an old Steamer 'like his Daddy's' which he operates on his Sunset Boulevard Ranch, Hollywood, California.

Both Horse-drawn Steam Engines and Traction Engines were exhibited and demonstrated by their proud owners. Old Case Horse-drawn Engine No. 1 was sent down by J. I. Case Company from Racine, Wisconsin. To keep it company the Ames Iron Works, Oswego, N. Y. sent down their Engine that was built about 1866. George Van Atta, Tioga Center, furnished a 'St. Johnsville' (N.Y.) Horse-drawn Engine.