2004 Oklahoma Steam and Gas Engine Show

A mother of a farm show in Pawnee, Okla.

| August/September 2004

Case 40 HP steam engine

Carl Tuttle engineers while Marsha Morris steers a 1915 Case 40 HP steam engine, serial no. 34641, on the incline - always the highlight of every Pawnee show.

Oklahoma Steam and Gas Engine Show by the numbers
1968 – The Waukomis Steam Threshering Association held its first show at Waukomis, Okla.
1974 – The club reorganized as the Oklahoma Steam Threshers and Gas Engine Association, moving its show grounds to Pawnee, Okla.
1987 – The club held its first Case Expo, expanding its grounds to the south to give the tractors and steam engines more room. Chaddy Atteberry started the steam engine incline, which became the event’s signature event and has been held every year since.

Mother's Day weekend in May is always a much-anticipated moment for plants and animals alike. It's that short-lived moment in the Midwest between the dreary winter and scorching summer when all of Mother Earth's forces seem to align in unity to throw the well-watered vegetation into a growing frenzy and encourage the birds and other animals to sing their intricate songs of courtship. On this weekend, the celebrations of humans almost imitate their wildlife counterparts as families and friends convene to socialize and honor their own mothers.

The second weekend in May is also a celebration for Oklahoma-bound old-iron lovers because it's that short and rare weekend of the year when steam and gas seem to align in perfect harmony in Pawnee, Okla., for what's billed as the largest antique power show in the Southwest, the Oklahoma Steam & Gas Engine Show. While it doesn't garner the kind of high-profile attention as the Portland, Ind., engine show, the Pawnee show is a hidden gem of the show circuit, and its springtime appeal adds to the delight of everyone who attends.

About 8,000 people attended the 2004 Pawnee show, which featured about 323 exhibitors, 200 tractors, 150 gas engines, 16 steam engines and 20 antique airplanes circling above. The show also featured a saw and shingle mill, a blacksmith, horsepower testing on a prony brake, plowing with a 110 HP Case steam engine and the highlight of every year, the steam engine incline. Gas engines were also on prime display and came in as many different shapes and sizes as their owners. Scale models were represented as well, but oil field engines were more prevalent, reflecting Oklahoma's storied history in the oil boom era of the 1920s and 1930s.

Engines of the Three Amigos
Among the oil field engines was a late-1920s-era 35 HP Superior located in the show ground's power house and owned by Jim Tullis, Steve Dunn and Dale Wolff. The trio of engine collectors found the Superior in a Cushing, Okla., junkyard. At first, Dale wasn't sure he wanted such a big engine, but Jim had a convincing argument for the purchase: The owner wanted to part with it for a mere $200.

The Superior was in great shape, sparing just a little maintenance. But when Dale, Jim and Steve had it shipped on Dale's Mac truck and lowboy trailer, the movers stunned everyone by dumping the engine off the back of the trailer, busting the governor and main bearing cap.