| January 2006

Forty Years and Counting

I wonder if Elmer Ritzman, the founder of Gas Engine Magazine, ever imagined his "baby" (as he called it in the premier issue) would still be going strong 40 years later.

A consumate steam traction engine, tractor and gas engine enthusiast, Elmer was already a 20-year veteran of magazine publishing when he decided it was time for a magazine devoted to stationary engines and their ilk.

It was the early threshing reunions that had sparked Elmer's interest in creating The Farm Journal in 1946 (he changed the name to Iron-Men Album in 1950), and as the reunions grew and spread across the country, more and more people brought their old engines to display and enjoy with fellow lovers of old iron.

Eventually, that interest grew to the point Elmer decided a magazine devoted to gas engines could be sustained. And so, beginning with the January 1966 issue, he launched Gas Engine Magazine.

Elmer's timing was right, because readers responded quickly and enthusiastically to GEM. Finally, lovers of old engines had a place to share their passion, showing off their prized engines and sharing information on engine companies that had, for the most part, slipped into obscurity.

But because of Elmer an important chapter in American history has been saved. Because of Elmer, old iron enthusiasts have spent countless hours researching, restoring and preserving the engines that launched a revolution in farm life. Because of Elmer, a once important element of American culture has been preserved, a culture we celebrate in the pages of this magazine and at farm shows around the country.