YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU MAY FIND

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A Reeves 32 HP compound, serial number of which was lost when the smoke box door was stolen, but it is either a 1904 or a 1905 engine.

Ste 101 at Edmonton St., Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

It was with a great deal of satisfaction that I learned in the
early nineteen fifties of others becoming interested in the old
time steam traction engines as prior to that time I had failed to
find anybody with much interest in these machines, and, worse that
that, any time I would expose my enthusiasm to others they would
usually end up whispering among themselves something to the effect
that they would have to have me put away.

After passing through the depression in Western Canada and being
on the train dispatcher’s spare board for nineteen years (most
of which time was really ‘spare’) there was not too much
idle money available to buy steam engines. There was plenty of
engines to have dealt with but, most of which are now totally
extinct and if here, would be priceless. So we all make mistakes! I
should have bought what I then could and taken the chance of being
confined. How nice to have you all asking permission to view these
specimens!

This was found by myself, as a result of ‘engine’
rumors. It was in 1964 located on Lac Seul about 50 miles northwest
of Sioux Lookout, Ontario. Was brought out to the Canadian National
Railways, 45 miles, the following summer by barge, freighted to
Dugald, Manitoba where this picture was taken alongside the same
railway while under steam. Picture was by the Free Press staff
photographer. Looks as if some person was calling to me from the
highway when picture was taken.

Well this engine business saturated me from childhood and the
report of an engine in some fence corner was always worth a trip to
go and have a visit with it and this has covered a good deal of
western Canada and the north central states. To hear a rumor of an
engine and do nothing about it, at this late stage, would be a
crime. One never knows what you may find. You can seldom know for
certain what the article may be or what condition it may be in by
reports you may receive. The only way to be sure is go and check.
The miracle could happen and there may still be the odd precious
engine forgotten or neglected or not yet discovered. It could
happen but probably may not.

For a few years and while I was still employed, I had been told
by two per sons about a steam engine away back in the bush on Lac
Seul. That is a part of the English River watershed and is utter
wilderness. One of these persons told me he thought the engine was
a ‘Case’ so with that, and since he should have known, I
was in no hurry to investigate but on my return from the Dalton
engine show in 1964 decided here is my chance to check into that
rumor. So, I went to Sioux Lookout and by good fortune ran into an
old friend Finlander who used to fish commercially up on that lake
over thirty years ago. After I told him what I had come down for he
shortly remembered that he somewhere had a picture of the engine in
doubt. When he found the picture I could scarcely believe my
eyes…..a Case… . No, a 32 Reeves.

Now I hired out with the railway at Sioux Lookout in 1918 and
knew the surrounding country pretty well but I had never known a
steamer to be taken in north at any time. Of course during the Red
Lake mining days the tonnage moving in was beyond all imagination
and the old Reeves became involved. I am quite sure that this would
be the only Reeves steamer to ever have been used in Ontario,
certainly the only big one. I was disappointed when the Ontario
club was not enthusiastic in taking it as an exhibit. They will
never get a similar chance and no other engine made can compare
with a Reeves, which I know is a strong statement. And all efforts
to ascertain her history have been in vain. Nobody has any idea
where it came from etc.

Well finding the picture of the Reeves really built-a-fire with
the result that next day we went by boat to look her over. The
boiler checked good. Most everything that could be removed, had
been taken away, and some parts broken on the rocks underfoot,
still there was a 32 Reeves right there looking at us, what else
mattered???? Her gearing looked like new but it turned out the
differential sleeve was rusted to that shaft; impossible to loosen.
Next summer we went in with a list of the necessary fittings and
had her running the second afternoon, turned her around, backed up
to barge approach, ready to load when a barge became available some
months later. Moved to Hudson 45 miles by barge, then 225 miles
west to Dugald Manitoba by Can Nat’l Rlys, then to the fair
grounds where the accompanying picture was taken, and which shows
the wig-wag signals for the highway crossing, also the Centralized
Traffic Control (CTC) signals overhead. Probably part of why I felt
so at home in this location, other than because of the Reeves, was
that it is a part of my ‘home’ territory, over which 1 have
dispatched thousands of trains by mores and telephone many years
ago.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment