Exactly one year ago, we told you about the seven
Cooper-Bessemer 1,000 HP two-cylinder | compound engines Tim
Christoff, Basehor, Kan., discovered in Ottawa, Kan. Built in 1927,
these huge engines (the flywheels alone were 14 feet tall) had been
quietly working away pumping natural gas. Williams Pipeline, owners
of the engine, had retired them, and when Tim discovered the
engines they were set to be scrapped. Tim launched a one-man
campaign to save the engines, and initially it looked as if he had
succeeded, as interest came flooding in from around the country.
Sadly, the engines have been destroyed.
For whatever reasons, the people and clubs interested in the
engines weren’t able to muster the needed resources of time,
energy and expertise – not to mention money – to save the Bessie 7.
I can’t blame them, because it was clearly a Herculean task,
and pulling off a project like that would be difficult even under
the best conditions – and the conditions were far from ideal.
Williams Pipeline officials weren’t going out of their way
to make acquiring the engines easy, and depending on your
perspective there’s no reason they should have. They just
wanted the engines gone to make way for new turbines. What’s
sad is the company’s lack of appreciation for what these
engines represented in terms of our industrial past and its lack of
appreciation for what it could mean to preserve these engines.