Labor Day Weekend has become synonomous with the Upper Peninsula Steam & Gas Engine Show at Escanaba, Michigan. This year the weather favored us by raining at night, instead of during the show. The burning of coal in some of the steam engines added dimensions not there in previous years when wood was used for fuel. The black smoke signals indicated the show's location from a much greater distance. The sulfur odor and frequent whistle blowing permeating the air around these belching, hissing monsters brought back nostalgic memories of the coal burning iron horses. We had a 1909 Minneapolis 25 x 75, a 1923 Port Huron 19 x 65, a 1921 Case 50 HP traction engine and a l9l0 Port Huron portable engine. Perhaps the most beneficial results of using coal were the more authentic looking engineers (covered with soot and black smoke) and the opportunity to extinguish fires in the straw stacks by the thrashers and the cedar shingle roof of the sawmill fires caused by sparks from the smokestacks. Our engineers were Jamie Dufour, Jim Wilson, Clarence Sherman, Skip Dufour, John List, Jim Lovell, and Mike Duquaine.
Eve Porath had the flea markets set up and operating smoothly. The Ladies Auxiliary, headed by Debby Fudala, did an excellent job of handling the pie sale as did Midge Dutton operating the cook shack. Linda LaMarsh had a petting zoo the children really enjoyed. Next year, however, we hope Linda will have broken the one lamb from crying all night. Other things which the ladies added to the show were spinning, weaving, and other arts and crafts. They were also very helpful in the sale of tickets and preparation of the pig roast. We have a pig roast pitch in dinner for everyone on Sunday evening. Skip and Al Strahl are a big help in this event.
Tea bear Sewing Center displayed their collection of antique sewing machines dating back to the 1700's. There were antique tool collections and over 150 gas engines (including a 1903 a Badger sideshaft 15 HP, May-tags, Aeromotor 8 cycle, Ottawas, Deere, Famous, Strahl's Tom Thumb, Carl Gustafson's mint 3 HP International, etc.). In addition to keeping Len Porath and Al Dill busy running their collections, these engines provided smoke rings, especially Dave Porath's Jaeger kerosene motor, pop-pop put-puts, and were displayed running pump jacks and buzzrigs. Richard Dutton and Jim Royer used their buzzrigs to cut the slabs generated by the sawmill into fuel for the steamers. They also cut cedar blocks for the shingle mill. We had about 30 gas tractors exhibited Fordsons, a 1920 17-3-Type A Minneapolis Crossmount, Farmalls, McCormick Deerings, Case, Oliver, Rumley Oil Pull, Allis Chalmers 20-35, and a Cat 30. Every once in a while, Uncle Sam (LeRoy Bastian) could be seen walking around through the crowd. We also had a 1921 Mack truck and a couple of Model T's touring the grounds.
As usual, our 1865 vintage sawmill was a main attraction. We certainly miss Bernie Broederson and his cigar as our head sawyer. Bernie, active in our club since its founding, passed away last winter. This years sawyers were Arvid Takala, Girard Vermote, Steve Piscodna, and Norm Coleman. A special thanks to all the young men who in addition to handling the wagon ride were constantly 'gophering' for wood, gas, oil, etc.: Jake Wilson, Chris Martinson, Hersh Lile and Jamie Dufour.
The shingle mill and rock crusher, operated by Duane Larson and Herschel Lile were also crowd pleasers. The cedar shavings were picked up by several visitors for pet bedding and Skip used a 55 gallon drum full, so he and Jim Silson could make a Roman candle with one of the steam engines pretty spectacular display! Several took shingles for souvenirs. Harry Nelson's Fordson belted up to the rock crusher was an instant success at attracting attention! Drawn by the noise of the rock crusher and the spray generated by the leaking radiator of the tractor, people ran to observe. Harry has a replacement radiator, but several old timers said a Fordson runs better when hot, so it may be better not to replace the radiator. We missed Terry Alexander this year, but earning a living comes before fun. Denny Takala also had to work. Don Martinson avoided this year's show by having emergency gall bladder surgery. Don says singing get well cards sound and look nicer than steam and gas engines anyway.
John and Nelson Sorault, father and son, are two other men our club misses due to their untimely death last winter. These men were involved in all club functions and demonstrated woodcarving and rope/knot tying at our shows. Their expertise always amazed children. John, Nelson, and Bernie are deeply missed by our club and the community.
Harry Nelson, John Cota, and Al Strahl manned the thrashing operations. Thrashing always interests all show goers. It is interesting to hear such comments as, 'Look at all the belts.' 'So that's where oats come from.' John can't wait until next year to belt the Belle City up to the 20-35 Allis, if Herschel gets the tractor done. John, in his 90's, used to out-thrash everybody with a Belle City Separator.
Al Gustafson had his huge draft horses at work. They plowed and cultivated quite a large area so people could see how it was done before steam. Spectators were awed by the power and obedience of the team. Jim Hudson's pony pull delighted the crowd. Don Person, Frank Nelson, Don Williams, and George Putvin fascinated everyone with their abilities. They created jewelry, fireplace tools, and horseshoes. They explained the operation of the forge and heating and tempering of metal. Don also explained his antique woodworking tools, made shakes, and hewed logs. He let others try their hands at hewing and crosscutting in teams.
As everyone knows, nothing gets done by itself. I hope I haven't overlooked anyone who helped make our show a success. A special thanks to all visiting club members, exhibitors, and show goers. While it seems there is a lot of work, there is also a lot of fun and self satisfaction in the restoration and preservation of these pieces of equipment and methods. At the end of every day of the show, groups gathered to swap stories or sing. One group of campers gathered their instruments: spoons, zither, autoharp, banjo, accordians, do-bro, guitars and sang church songs. By ten o'clock everyone was in bed, except for Jim Porath who rode his mini-bike all night patrolling the grounds.
If you are in our area this year in September, we'd be happy to have you stop and visit, exhibit, or set up a booth at the flea market. We have ample camping facilities. Our 9th annual show will be Labor Day Weekend. For further information call or write: Donald Martinson, 4072 Greenwood Dr. 18. 12 Rd, Escanaba, MI 49829, 906-786-8694.