Prairie Land Show


| December/January 1985



Steam powered train

P.O. Box 291 Fairfield, 1A 52556

I had a very enjoyable experience attending the Prairie Land Heritage Museum Institute show at Jacksonville, Illinois, September 27 to 29. I had never attended this show before, but I am putting it on my list of shows to attend next year. There seemed to be something for everyone's interest. I was told that it has doubled in size in the last three years and no doubt it will continue to grow.

For the gas and deisel fans, they had an old granddaddy that would please any collector. This engine was a 150 HP single cylinder Primm in running order. It was put into service in 1924 and was retired in 1959. The old engine had spent its years on a 32 inch pump in the drainage district about 18 miles away pumping water over the levee. This old engine is a fine working exhibit. I had the honor of watching it come to life at the show. The hot plug was heated in the blow torch, then placed into the head of the engine, then the air starter turned her over, and with a few loud reports and smoke, the 22 inch bore piston was set into motion. It sure had the attention of many people.

Now for you people who are lovers of pork hocks and soup beans the trip would be worth it just for that. By the back door of the kitchen are two large steam cooking kettles that take their steam from a 100-year-old portable steam engine that is mounted on a wood framed wagon with wood wagon wheels. The smell that comes from those kettles is enough to make anyone hungry even if you don't like beans.

After you have had your fill, you can take about a 300-foot walk over to the saw mill. There you will find a vintage 2 head block saw mill that is powered by a 50 HP Case steam engine or a 20 HP Avery. According to the bull dog on the smoke box door of the Avery, teeth talk. There was a good supply of native logs to be turned into lumber, so during the show the old mill and the engines had some work to do.

After listening to some steam engine talk as they furnish power for the mill, you can walk another 200 feet and you will find a steam powered train ready to take you a ride. The locomotive is about a half scale of an American type engine with a wheel arrangement of 4-4-0. It pulls 2 coaches that are open with roof. This ride is a pleaser of both the young and old. The little coal burning locomotive makes many trips a day.