West Virginia Oil and Gas Festival

Author Photo
By Lee Howell Route | Apr 1, 1997

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Oil rigs part of the models display.
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Richard Scott's 20 HP Pattin at the West Virginia Oil & Gas Festival 1996.
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Martin Rutans' Galloway advertisement.

1, Box 209, Middlebourne, West Virginia 26149

Once again the end of the show season has caught up with us.
1996 was a wet but still a good show season. My better half and I
managed to attend three new shows this year and thoroughly enjoyed
them all.

The turnout at the West Virginia Oil and Gas Festival Old Engine
Show at Sistersville, West Virginia, was indeed festive. We had a
record number of engines, 521 to be exact! Also, we had 68 models,
three tractors, and 23 miscellaneous displays. Now with that many
engines, half running and half being cranked, there’s bound to
be a lot of turbulence in the air! Jim Bess and his 6 HP Galloway
didn’t have a problem with that, since he just happens to be
from Tornado, West Virginia. That’s just down the road from
Hurricane and Windfield, no kidding! Also there’s this certain
fellow from Valencia, Pennsylvania, who says that after four days
at this show his jaws got tired! That’s the kind of show it

One of the most memorable exhibitors I had the opportunity to
meet was Irvin Borland and his family of Bayard, Ohio. Irvin is 92
years old and his wife is 91 with, I believe, two sons and a
daughter who proudly displayed their masterpiece six Galloway. This
is the engine Irvin himself assisted his dad in making a trip by
horse and wagon to the rail station to pick up in 1916. Now, that
goes back a ways, folks! Irvin had no trouble relating this story
to me. He said that old engine filled many a silo and cut many a
cord of wood along with several other chores. He said he used the
old Galloway regularly until the late 1940s. One other thing about
this conversation intrigues me. It seems that while Irvin was
returning a ‘local’ to this area in 1925, he met and
returned home with Ms. Taylor (Mrs. Borland) from Oil Ridge just
out of Sistersville. Good luck to the Borland family. We appreciate
your attendance.

Also this year we didn’t have rain on Saturday, and I’ll
have to thank the good ole boys from North Carolina, George Niblock
and Ron Goodin, for finally cutting the rope they pulled that rain
cloud up here with. While Friday was a little rainy, it did end
with a magnificent rainbow over the show grounds.

Dale Sonke’s Bessemer 12 HP ‘Breed’ Engine. His
display includes the following info: ‘This Innis Steam Engine
was installed on an oil lease in Clarion Co., N.W. Penn. in 1884
and was converted to hot tube ignition between 1900 and 1907. This
conversion consisted of the cylinder, head, piston, clutched
pulley, and the straight-spoked flywheel. Dr. Fithian and John
Carruthers developed this process and thus founded Bessemer Gas
Engine Co. The main reason for the conversion was operating costs.
When the engine was steam driven, it required the constant
attendance of a steam engineer, and due to the decrease in oil
production from the shallow wells in this Northwest Pennsylvania
region, this type of operation was becoming unprofitable. The
conversion or ‘breed’ required very little maintenance. The
added advantage was this engine could be fueled by on-site casing
or well head gasa by product of the oil well. Thousands of these
conversions were in operation before various engine companies
developed the spark ignited and diesel oil field engines. Only a
very few examples of this engine exist today. Restored 1989/1993 by
Dale Sonke, Rockford, Michigan.’

We had quite a turnout of large oil field engines as well as
others. Richard Scott of Williamstown, West Virginia, had his fine
20 HP Pattin with a displacement readout of 1,021 CI, yes on a
single cylinder! Miles Lamm of Ellenboro, West Virginia, had a nice
20 HP Pattin. John Roop of Walkersville, Maryland, clawed his way
up several mountains to show one dandy 25 HP Reid. Dale Sonke from
Rockford, Michigan, made his first trip to Sistersville and brought
with him a very rare 12 HP Innis half-breed with Bessemer cylinder.
This engine is listed on the national historical record and will
someday be on permanent display at the Cool spring Power Museum in
Pennsylvania. It has the most elaborate skids I’ve ever seen.
Jay Clark, of Ohio, brought a very rare and expensive 6 HP
Springfield, a beautiful engine. Also I would like to thank John
Preston, of Michigan, who unselfishly spent lots of time working on
my PR Wico for an 8 HP Ekonomy by Pattin Bros. He furnished parts
and expertise getting the old girl running. He has the darn dest
way of checking for spark, with his fingertips. His two small
Pattins, 5 & 6 HP, are also on their way to the Cool spring

And guess what! Charlie and Scott Hirshey of Geneva, Indiana,
did it again! They pulled from one of these hollows a real
‘diamond in the rust,’ a 12 HP SM Jones this time; it
happens every year!

Many other oil field engines were displayed like Bessemers,
South penn half-breeds, Black bear, J.P. Berry, and Evans. There
were many, many hit & miss and throttle governed farm engines,
some in excellent restoration.

The little Ding A Ling Choo Choo train was very busy snaking its
way through the engine rows with its excited ‘cargo.’ Once
again we had some excellent early oil rig models on display, some
were for sale. With all the crafts, exhibits, games and on stage
entertainment, it was a nice show. We hope to see you next year.
Show dates for 1997 are September 11, 12, 13, 14. Featured engine
will be Pattin Bros.

West Virginia Oil & Gas festival

Author Photo
By Stewart Bradfield | Jan 1, 1982

Executive Director

SISTERSVILLE, W VA-The annual ‘Old Gas Engine Show’,
September 12-13 held each year as a main event of the West Virginia
Oil & Gas Festival in Sistersville, September 10-13, has been
termed a big success by the sponsors and host.

Over 125 engine owners from seven states gathered at the
Sistersville City Park, along the Ohio River for this year’s
show. Many took part in all of the four-day festival. Over 185
engines of all types and sizes took part in the show which attracts
thousands of visitors to this ‘oil boom’ town of the

The ‘Old Gas Engine Show’ is held each year as part of
the festival which honors the oil and gas industry of West
Virginia. The show has grown each year and has become the main
event of the City Park.

The festival committee feels this event has grown each year
because of the type of people who take part. ‘They are mostly
down-to-earth people, family people who enjoy meeting people and
having a good time’ states one festival official. One of the
engine owners reported that the main reason he comes back each year
(seven years in a row) is that there isn’t any problems and
that his family can see and even take part in many of the festival
activities. There are over 30 events that visitors can take part
in. Some are the camp fire sing, banjo and fiddle contest, gold
rush for children, wrench throwing contest, square dance, distance
run, West Virginia wrist wrestling championships, grand oil and gas
trophy parade and many more.

This year’s festival dates were printed wrong and the
festival committee had to stay with them. This put the local show
on the same dates as others in the area. In 1982 the dates have
been changed back to the date it was for 12 years. The 1982
festival will be held on September 16-19 with the ‘Old Gas
Engine Show’ being held on the 18th and 19th. Engine owners are
welcome all four days.

For the past six years or so the Quaker State Oil Refining
Corporation has been the sponsor of the show, providing oil and
gas. Their sponsorship also makes it possible for free admission,
free camping and parking, free brass dash plates for all engine
owners and their families. It is hoped that Quaker State will again
serve as the sponsor for this outstanding event.

The festival committee wishes to thank all of the engine owners
who took part in this year’s show from Ohio, West Virginia,
Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan and Delaware for their
help in making not only the   engine show a success but
also the festival a big success. They would also like to invite all
engine owners to join them in 1982 for a really good time.

Anyone wishing more information can write to the festival at:
P.O. Box 25, Sistersville, West Virginia 26175.

Gas Engine Magazine

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