'Them Were the Days'

| March/April 1963

Bryantsville, Kentucky

I have been reading your magazine for several years and enjoy it very much. I think it is very common for all of us as we grow older to live in the past as these old saw mill and thresher men are doing. I have never read a letter from Kentucky and as my experience with steam engines in part at least, is quite different from anything I've read I think perhaps it may be of some interest to some of your readers.

I was born in the mountains of Kentucky where corn and hay were practically the only crops at that time. When I was about six years of age my father raised a small crop of wheat. I don't remember the thresher man's name but he had the first steam engine I ever saw. It was a small portable one. He used oxen to move the engine and separator from farm to farm.

There were two grist mills near our house. One was driven by water power and went out of business a few years after I can first remember it. The other one was driven by a portable steam with wheels removed and axles resting on logs. It was used, I think, for around 20 years, when it was replaced with a gasoline engine. Both millers took toll for their work. I think one-sixth for engine driven and one-eighth for water driven mills.

I had an aunt who lived near a little railroad station that had been named for her husband. One of the highlights of my young life was a visit to her each summer and I never tired of watching the locomotives as that was long before the day of diesel power.

In my early twenties I spent the years of 1914 and 1915 in central Oklahoma where I worked both seasons with steam powered threshers. First year it was a 15 hp Case Engine pulling a 32-54 Case Thresher. The engineer would sometimes let me guide the engine when it was moving and even though I was a grown young man I was never more thrilled in my life.