608 East Broadway, P.O. Box 291, Fairfield, Iowa 52556.
Last September I attended the Jacksonville, Illinois Steam and
Gas Engine Show. I had not attended this show for the past four or
five years and found it to be bigger and better than ever.
Two new buildings have been added and now the 150 HP Primm is
inside and has another old Primm to keep it company, however it is
much smaller but older. The 1924 Primm has a weight of about 22
tons, has a bore and stroke of 22 x 24 inches. The 150 HP is said
to be the only one of its kind still with us today; all the others
have made their way to the scrap yard. Near the two Primms is a 50
HP F-M that is restored and running. This one is started a few
times a day during the show and runs like a top. In another corner
of the building is a Corliss and generator that with some TLC will
make a fine exhibit someday. Near one of the big doors is an old
Kewanee boiler waiting to someday furnish steam and life to the
Corliss and a steam compressor near it.
The old sawmill now has a roof over it and was turning logs into
lumber during the show. This year a 22 HP Rumely was providing the
power for the mill. The two head block mill has no refinements of a
modern mill. The logs are rolled by hand and the slabs are carried
to the slab pile by a strong back and two good feet. The most
relaxed people at the mill are people like me that sit on the bench
and watch the mill and the crew work, as well as listen to the
engine bark as the saw passes through the logs.
A short distance from the sawmill, the model American Crown
locomotive and its two cars were making trips around the track
taking people on rides. On the area inside the tracks a threshing
machine was doing its job, powered by an Aultman-Taylor tractor
dating back to a little after World War I. Nearby was a stationary
baler binding up the straw. The baler was built in Bellevue,
Illinois years ago. I do not know its date in time but, for sure,
it was many years ago. I had never seen one like it. Most of the
stationary balers around here are Dain, built in Ottumwa, Iowa. The
Dain was the forerunner of the John Deere hay equipment division
there. The Dain baler came with an R and V engine on it.
My next stop was the gas engine area, where I did a good bit of
looking and visiting. At the gas engine area is a new building that
will house small antiques in the future.
Down the hill from the gas engine area is the hand crafts and
flea market area. This year there were many of both. In flea
markets one never knows what he will find and maybe just what you
have been looking for to put into your collection. Crafts to me are
the fruits of the skilled hands and minds of people bringing us a
bit of beauty, happiness and useful things.
Yes, the bean cooker was going strong. Not only does the bean
cooker bring us some good eating, but also a bit of U.S. history.
The little 6 HP steam engine that makes the steam to cook the beans
dates back to 1861, the time of the great Civil War. This machine
was high-tech in its time. By the looks of things it will be
cooking beans for a long time to come. Very few things of Civil War
time are still working today. (Beans were served to both Feds and
I spent a good bit of time around the sugar cane mill watching
the rollers of the mill press the juice out of the cane. The mill
was powered by a small Advance 6 HP steam engine built in 1894-The
little engine does a good job at 75 or 80 psi if the feeders do not
get too fast with the cane stalks. After the juice is pressed out
of the cane it is turned over to the skilled hands of a very
devoted man to cook it down into molasses. His hours are long
during the show and last into the dark hours of the evening. This
is also true of the man that fires the steam engine to furnish the
steam to cook the juice into molasses. I had a lot of fun visiting
with the molasses crew.
There is another crew at the show that does a fine job and that
is the people in the kitchen. This is the first place I went each
morning. They have biscuits and gravy or eggs and link sausage with
toast or biscuits. There is also molasses on the table fresh from
next door. In the windows of the dining area were large heads of
cocks comb flowers. These were the largest heads I ever saw. They
looked like dark red velvet. One lady told me where she got the
seed. I must have some of them next year!
For the antique tractor people, they had a fine exhibit of
tractors and I spent a lot of time looking them over. I thought of
all the man hours and expense that had gone into them. There were a
number of pretty horses and wagons. The harnesses were clean and
the brass studs shone in the sun. I know it takes a lot of work to
keep a harness looking this way. During the day they were kept busy
taking people rides in the wagons. Small children, as well as their
folks, had a lot of fun at the petting zoo. There is something
about baby animals that just about all people like. The goat must
have been home sick at night and let people know about it. I did
hear someone mention goat stew one morning.
I wish to thank the whole crew of Prairie Land Heritage Museum
for all their hard work to make a great show and to give me two
days away from the grind of every day living.
Well, the show is over now and so is my vacation. There is one
thing at shows that never changes and that is all the fine people
you meet and long remember.