Always Gas Engines

| August/September 1989

County Historical Steam Festival, R.R. #2, Box 178, Arcola, Illinois 61910

Having been raised on a farm in Illinois, I can never remember when I was not surrounded by gas engines of some sort. When I was at a very young age, I would ride wih my father, Joe Nolan, on our 101 Massey Harris tractor pulling a rotary hoe through the fields at high speeds. I can also remember riding the old Massey Harris at night with him while plowing with electric lights which was really quite an advancement for our farm with rural electricity just coming into the area at the same time. I best remember the old Massey Harris laboring on the belt while shelling corn for the neighbors with a Minneapolis corn sheller. The old Massey would turn over that old Minnie sheller from six in the morning to six in the evening. The drone of the exhaust pipe could be heard through the slats of the old corn cribs as the corn drags carried a steady yellow stream of eared corn to the awaiting sheller.

My mother, Eileen Nolan, would always go out to the old wash-house on washing day and have me carry out the old Maytag flexible exhaust pipe which was so greasy you had to carry a rag for your hands before you could do anything else concerned with the washing operation. My mother would wash load after load for our family and the old Maytag would send out a steady stream of blue smoke while the agitator would work back and forth while washing the clothes. I liked to ride with my father to the local grain elevator and stay in the old International truck while the elevator hoist would raise the front of the truck high into the air so that the grain would slide out of the bed. While I would be suspended in air the old 25 HP Fairbanks-Morse with match ignitor would fire heavily as it pulled the grain flights in the elevator leg to the storage containers. These are only fond memories now, but these were times in my life when rural life was rich and exciting and the gas engine was becoming a more important factor with each approaching year. We at the Douglas County Historical Steam Show at Arcola, Illinois are very proud that we can keep this history alive every Labor Day Weekend when time stands still and we relive 'History in Motion.'