805 E. San Rafael Street Colorado Springs, Colorado 80903
Certainly not a unique, unusual or rare engine in any way, it was designed to drive corn binders on midwestern farms. How one ever got to southwestern Utah, into the depths of Glen Canyon on the Colorado River where it operated a Wil-fley shake table at an old abandoned gold placer mine, would make an interesting story in itself.
The summer before the completion of the Glen Canyon Dam, during a Boy Scout river trip through that spectacular gorge, we discovered the old engine at a place called Shock's Bar on our maps, between Hall's Crossing and the confluence of the San Juan, just a little downstream from the historic Hole-in-the-Rock crossing of Mormon fame. The water and the gas tanks had been used for target practice, someone had lifted the brass carburetor, but otherwise it seemed to be intact, and more importantly, free and un-stuck.
My interest in antiques and 'things old' was then limited to vintage cars, but right away I developed a yearning for that old forsaken piece of scrap iron. Of course we couldn't just take it with us; its sharp corners would surely poke holes in our rubber rafts, and we had many miles to go and much more white water to negotiate. We would have to come back overland with the truck, and somehow figure out a way to sky-hook it straight up the mile or so of solid rock from the river bank to the canyon rim. Time was running out-Glen Canyon Dam was scheduled for completion that winter, and the area would soon be submerged under hundreds of feet of Lake Powell water.
Glen Canyon lies in one of the most rugged and desolate (and beautiful) parts of the country; at that time there were no roads into the region and no maps. We were on our own. We began to take exploration trips, hidden in the guise of 'Boy Scout outings' into the godforsaken desert badlands soutwest of Blanding, down in that vast triangle of broken mesas and buttes bounded by the Colorado and the San Juan, whose only access was by a tortuous and billious jeep road over and obscure 'Clay Hills Pass', always searching for the elusive old Mormon wagon road that led down into the Hole-in-the-Rock, which we suspected would have to be our only way in.
Somehow our endeavors paid off; we found that 'road', now no more than faint wheel ruts worn into slick rock. We bushwacked our way off out into the tules to the very brink of the canyon, and could look at the river and Shock's Bar only one mile away-straight down.
Now two hundred pounds of rusty old iron on the ground weighs about 200 tons when suspended half-way up a sheer rock wall by a nylon climbing rope, attached at the other end to a luckless climber, belayed himself to the rocks with only a couple of scrawny pitons. Questioning the ancestry of ol' Newton and his stupid law of gravity all the way, we somehow horse-wrestled that worthless piece of junk, now minus its skids, gas and water tanks, to the top, sacrificing in the process, 3 good climbing ropes, about 47 pitons, and several pairs of jeans.
The engine is all restored now, as well as it will ever be, although still without its original and correct carby, its gas and water tanks. Every year it is used to operate one or more of my puzzle saws at engine shows all over the midwest. Of course it is worn out; it burns oil, more oil than gas (and what it doesn't burn it squirts out of its every crack and cranny). New bearing tubes had to be turned from solid chunks of babbit; its rod first saw service in a Model A Ford, its piston came out of a modern 350 Chevy V-8.
But regretfully, still down at Shock's Bar, under perhaps 500 feet of Lake Powell water, lie two old horizontal 1-lungers of unknown make, both much too large and too heavy to ever be lifted by hand up that rock wall, even in pieces. There is a little cat-type tractor there with a 4-banger open pushrod engine that was free and intact; with a little gas we could have started it up. But most unusual and odd, was the large single-cylinder horizontal center crank steam engine, about 10 by 12 or so, that drove the water pump for the hydraulic placer system. It had a wood-bed frame-two 12x12's with the cylinder bolted at one end and the crank boxin's at the other.
The old miner lived in a cabin nearby, no doubt with his wife, for there were pictures on the walls; the place was still neat and tidy in spite of the 1936 calendar. Outside, a wonderful clear cold spring; hollyhocks grew wild by the porch, and there was a fig tree in the yard. Someone's dreams and hopes all for nothing, for it is all gone now, destroyed in the name of 'progress', in man's greedy and futile attempt to 'tame nature'.
All that is left is the Cushman. But does anyone want to go scuba diving in the depths of Lake Powell? -'Ole Uncle Smiley', the Puzzle Man