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Sistersville Oil & Gas Festival

| July/August 1996

  • John Preston and his two rare Pattins
    John Preston and his two 'rare' Pattins.
  • Black Bear engine pumping crude oil
    Black Bear engine pumping crude oil.

  • John Preston and his two rare Pattins
  • Black Bear engine pumping crude oil

Rt. 1, Box 209, Middlebourne, West Virginia 26149

Once again, antique engine buffs, winter is upon us. There were many fine engines shows to visit. Yours truly and wife took in several ourselves. Sistersville Oil and Gas Festival was one such show. Again we set a record for the number of engines, and featuring oil field engines resulted in some rare and unique examples. I guess the two very fine Pattins, 5 and 6 HP, of John Preston, from Michigan, fits that description closely. These engines are very rare here in 'oil country' and for someone 'out of town' to find them fascinates me. The engines have first ported, then valved exhaust. But John did an excellent job restoring the old relics. One has hot tube ignition, the other P.R.Wico. We hope to see them again next year!

Large oilfield engines in abundance such as 20 & 25 HP Pattins, 15 & 25 HP Reids, 15-20 or 25 HP Half Breeds 'steam engines transformed to gas.' Also a large variety of Bessemers, mostly from the 'stables' of our show organizer Wib Anderson and family. A Black Bear pumping rig pumping crude oil drew a steady stream of onlookers. The 15 HP J. P. Berry that Cliff Atkinson brought down from Valencia, Pennsylvania, area was a rare machine indeed and it ran like a clock. The lineup of oilfield engines also included an 8 HP Spang and a 'silent running' 15 HP Evans. The large majority of these oil field engines are hot tube fired.

Scott Hirshey of Geneva, Indiana, made his annual trek to Sistersville and, once again, dragged a 'diamond in the rust' out of one of the sleepy hollows close by. This time a very old, 'maybe 1890s,' upright Kline engine. There were many fine smaller engines, some quite unusual for this area, especially the New Way engine meticulously restored by Ed Grimsey and his wife, from Mount Joy, Pennsylvania. After spending some time visiting the Grimseys, they were telling me some of the reasons they pass a closer show to visit Sistersville: the picturesque setting with the show, along the Ohio River, and the nearby ferry making its trips to Fly, Ohio, and back. Some of the show goers take advantage of this to go over to the tasty little restaurant at the top of the ferry landing. Also downtown Sistersville is within short walking distance where the restaurants are popular. The Grand Old Wells Inn serves some fine dining. Mrs. Grimsey thanked me after I informed her of the three mansions built by the rich oil tycoons of years gone by, that are just down the street from the show grounds. She enjoyed the short walk. Visitors like that make the locals proud to be of service.

The 'good ole boys' from North Carolina showed again this year with two large trailers loaded to the gills with Fairbanks and Novos. Now if I could just get them to cut that rope they pull that rain cloud up here with!! Saturday turned out wet but the show went on. To be exact 428 engines, 52 models, 6 tractors, 57 miscellaneous from 17 states and Canada were in attendance.

The oil and gas sponsored model oil rig display resulted in some very fine examples of early oil rigs down to the last screw, I think! Some were offered for sale and did just that! The entertainment on stage across the park drew ample crowds. The grand oil and gas parade went on as scheduled, rain or shine, mostly rain!


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