2050 So. Humboldt, Denver, Colorado 80210
About ten years ago, when our Antique Auto Club had a tour to
Bird City, Kansas, I became acquainted with some men who had their
steam engines there. They invited me to see their collection of
steam-traction engines, gas tractors, and grain seperators, etc. We
went a few miles out of town to see their collection of restored
engines, and I enjoyed them so much that I promised to attend one
of their steam engine meets.
This year we arranged our vacation to attend the Tri-State Steam
on our way East. It was a three day affair Sept 28-30th. We left
Denver Friday Morning at 5:30 A.M. and arrived in Bird City about
10:30 their time.
This was their 12th year, and everything was very well
organized. They have 40 acres of their own, and keep much of their
equipment there the year around. By the time we arrived there was
several hundred people there, and more kept coming all day.
Lined up along the side of a city block square area was 26 large
steamers of all makes, and sizes, along with several scale models,
about size. All were fired up and were smoking and whistling, and
some were moving about.
Across the end of the area were several grain separators
(threshing machines). Some were restored and some were not. There
were several stacks of wheat that had been cut with a binder.
During the day they threshed the grain using different steam
engines, and gas tractors. Everyone was invited to pitch in some
bundles. It brought back some wonderful memories.
Along the other side were the gasoline tractors. I counted 40
different ones, ranging from the very large Aultman-Taylor, with 9
feet high wheels to John Deere and Fordsons. There were Avery and
Oil-Pull tractors almost as large as the Aultman-Taylors. Some
early Caterpillars and many names I had not heard of. One that was
quite different was a Townsend. It looked almost exactly like a
very small steam tractor with a boiler and smoke stack. The boiler
was the radiator and gas tank, and the smoke stack was the exhaust.
The cylinders were on top of the boiler and were horizontal like on
a steam engine.
Some of the gas tractors started by crank. Others had to be
pulled, but all fired up and ran.
In the middle of the area were two big fans. The steam engines
and tractors took turns belting up to them and trying their power,
making a lot of smoke and noise.
Outside the area there was plowing using steam to a twelve
Many old people were there, and they had a big low-boy trailer
with bleacher type seats, that hauled them to the events. Very
There was a big tent with seats for those wanting out of the sun
and a big building where the Ladies Aid served a good lunch. Also a
stage with entertainment.
After lunch there was a parade of all the equipment. It lasted
about an hour. One young fellow gave an exhibition with his steam
engine. He ran one drive wheel over a two foot high pyramid. He
would stop on top and then go forward or back, never letting the
wheel quite touch the ground. He got a great hand.
The highlight of the day was when I visited with my friend Mr.
Christy Gauger of Stanton, Nebraska. He allowed me to run his steam
engine and drive it around the area. Sure was a thrill for an old
water boy. As Bonnie always says, ‘you can take the boy out of
the country, but you can’t take the country out of the