When Steam Was King

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Rt. 2, Box 6 Slaton, Texas 79364

When Steam Was King was the start of our summer trip going back
today, touching yesterday’s memories, was the beginning of our
family vacation. Our family consists of Jerry, Pat, Ann Marie,
Kurt, Kristine, and Keith Kitten. To start off, on June 29th we
held a Kitten Reunion, and to help celebrate this reunion, Jerry
fired up his Kitten #224 steam engine. The Kitten steam engine was
manufactured by Florens Kitten, Jerry’s triple Great Uncle.
Jerry also showed off the Kitten saw mill in action by sawing logs
from East Texas. Cameras were a must to catch the Kitten steam
engine belching black smoke from the smoke stack, and to take
family pictures of history gone by. Both young and old had a great
time seeing the Kitten steam engine and Kitten saw mill in action
many talking about the time when a Kitten steam engine thresher was
used to separate wheat here in Slaton in the 1920’s. Many had
never seen the machines of yesteryear run, back when Steam was
King. There are 139 Kitten families in over 13 states, and there
are 50 Kitten families in the Slaton area.

In July, we started out to see more steam engines, threshers,
and saw mills run by steam. First stop off was to see Paul
Stolzfoos at Leola, Pennsylvania, who is owner of the Kitten steam
engine #214. Paul was very glad to have us visit him. He was so
learned in all he talked about. He has had several steam engines,
but has sold or traded them all except the Kitten engine. We went
out to the fairgrounds where the Rough & Tumble Steam Engine
Show was to be held the first of August. Paul went on to show us
the many steam engines and saw mills that were already on hand for
the show and the threshers that were ready to cut wheat for the
show. We met Paul’s lovely wife Anna and his family. Jerry and
Paul stayed up late into the night talking about steam engines.
Paul showed us many photos of steam engines that he had owned and
of many engines at shows that he has attended.

We left there on Sunday and drove to see Eiffel Plasterer in
Huntington, Indiana. Eiffel is the proud owner of Kitten steam
engine #219. Eiffel uses his steam engine to make the best pure
sorghum you ever tasted. It’s a family tradition making good
cane molasses every year since 1899. Eiffel has a knowledge from
many years of owning and working with steam engines and threshers.
We would like to have visited more with Eiffel, but he was on his
way to perform at a Bubble Machine Show. Eiffel is an expert on
making bubbles.

On to see Al New in Pendleton, Indiana, owner of Kitten Steam
Engine #220. We stopped to visit with Al and he informed us that
his Kitten steam engine was already at the Rushville Steam Engine
Show. We left Pendleton and drove to Rushville, where the 33rd
Annual Steam Engine & Threshers Show was to open August 2, 3,
& 4. The highlight of the Rushville Show was that Jerry would
be able to drive Al New’s Kitten Steam Engine #220 in the
parade every day. Every morning all the engineers were out early to
start their engines up. You could smell the black smoke coming
across the green fields where the campgrounds were filling up with
other admirers of steam machinery. The feature steam engine shown
at Rushville was the big 110 HP steam Case engine. It was the first
time the Case 110 HP steam engine had come to the Rushville Show.
When it took its place at the saw mill you could see it standing
proud for miles around. At high noon the whistles could be heard
for miles around another way of letting people know that Steam is
King. The parade at Rushville was a spectacular view of steam
engines, water wagons, whistles blowing. One steam engine had as
many as 5 different whistles. After the parade was a tractor pull.
Stone blocks were put on the back of the tractor and more were
added the further the tractor would go. So the tractor that pulled
for the most yards was the winner.

On Saturday morning at Rushville, a pipe organ operating on
steam was giving beautiful music all over the campgrounds. After
the noon whistle blew, the sheep shearing with a tractor operating
on steam took place. When nightfall came, all the engineers and
their families would get together around a campfire. We needed the
campfire not only as it was lovely to look at, but because in
August in Rushville, the temperature was in the low 40’s. The
campfire was the setting for gathering of friends, but only at
Rushville would you meet these friends, the most friendly people
from miles around Ernie & Vera Glaub (from Cincinnati, Ohio),
Roscoe & Helen Shiver decker (Strawberry Plains, Tennessee),
Noel & Mary Ertel (Metamora, Indiana), Ken & Dora &
Mike Huber (from Connersville, Indiana) and Dwight Wilson (from
Metamore, Indiana). All were so very nice to us as we gathered
around the fire, ate fried chicken, sang songs (like ‘Keep the
Home Fires Burning’), and talked about days gone by. We
reminisced about the day when steam engines did the work of sawing
and threshing, and what pride we heard in their voices of owning
and operating a steam engine. When meeting friends like these at
steam engine shows, the topic of conversation is always ‘When
Steam Was King’



Year Mfg.




Kitten-Moseley Fertilizer, Slaton, Texas



Leroy McClure, Colchester, IL




Lawrence Troesch, St. Meinrad, IN



Al New, Pendleton, IN



Eiffel Plasterer, Huntington, IN


Lubbock County Museum


Graveyard Headstone



Billy Kennedy, Grafton, OH



Ed Sigmon, Newton, NC



Paul Stolzfoos, Leola, PA






Neil McClure, Colchester, IL






Hubert Reynolds, Boonville, IN






Bill Ruttledge, Dyer, IN



Oscar Coakes, Billings, Montana


David Sampson, Columbia Station, OH



Wallace Freeman, Ceclia, KY



Edaville R.R., South Carver, MA



Eiffel Plasterer, Huntington, IN



Effel Plasterer, Huntington, IN



Charles Scafer, Plymouth, IN

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Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment