| March/April 1990

  • Traction engine

  • Lil' Princess

  • Traction engine
  • Lil' Princess

9441 Poncho St. Louis, Missouri 63123

In the July-August 1962 issue of the IRON MEN ALBUM Magazine, it featured an article on 'The Princess' . A group of men discovered this relic traction engine which had been abandoned on Howell Island (located on the Missouri River some twenty miles upstream from St. Charles, Missouri). This engine had escaped the 'junkman's torch' because of its difficult accessibility, and with the presence of more modern and powerful engines being built, it was forgotten. Research of this unique engine revealed they had a one-of-a-kind traction engine indeed.

The traction engine was built in Belleville, Illinois in 1882 by the Harrison Machine Works. Only a few engines like this one were manufactured and there are no other known ones in existence today. The Harrison Machine Works went on to manufacture a bigger, more powerful eighteen horsepower calling it the 'Jumbo Harrison'.

After these findings, you could imagine how excited these men were to start the restoration. Thank goodness this engine was found by a group of gentlemen who knew what a personal joy it would be to restore and share the memories with other people who had lived during the steam engine era. After many hours of arduous work, circumstances beyond their control forced the restoration to come to a hault, once again putting her in danger of the 'junkman's torch'. Fortunately, a new admirer (L. Kuntz from Fenton, MO) took over the task of restoring this unique piece of machinery. With great effort, this man restored her and named her 'The Princess'. After being shown at thresher shows throughout the Midwest, 'The Princess' can be found today in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa where she is the feature presentation of the Midwest Old Thresher Museum. One distinction hat separates 'The Princess' from other traction engines is that she is among the first, if not the VERY first, traction steam engine to be built in the United States!!! Another distinct difference can be found about the smokestack; it goes through the steam dome; the center of this allows the exhaust to pass through. As you can well imagine, this piece of machinery is quite an attention getter!!!

Wayne Baxley emerges from the Sandy Creek Covered Bridge, Goldman, Missouri, on his half-scale 'Lil' Princess.' For Baxley's story, see page 27 of this issue.

Mr. L. Kuntz and a friend, Mr. C. Hilderbrand, searched for another traction engine of the Harrison uniqueness, but to no avail. They then decided to build a 1/2 scale model of 'The Princess'. Following every detail meticulously, this project took ten years finishing in the mid-1960's. It was a prize!!! Having the only 1/2 scale model of a 'one and only' was something to be proud of. The opportunity to show it at thresher shows, parades, etc., gave them a great amount of pride. Upon the deaths of both Mr. Kuntz and Mr. Hilderbrand in the early 1980's, a barber from St. Louis, MO, W. Baxley, purchased the 1/2 scale model. He and a friend, Mr. P. House, using the paint scheme of the full size 'Princess' at the museum in Mt. Pleasant, painted this model. In doing so, they decided to overlay the steel wheels with rubber making it better for parades, etc. She is in perfect running order. You are afforded the opportunity to see this machine at most shows, parades, fairs, etc. Her name is 'Lil' Princess'.


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