The Swamp Sparta


| November/December 1994



Sparta engine

1810 Point of Rocks Road, Chester, VA 23831

In September 1992, at the Virginia State Fair, a fellow came by my engine display and told me about a big motor that had once run a mill that belonged to his uncle. In late October 1992, I decided to try to find the engine. I walked for two hours around a swamp, through briars and thick brush to get to the engine. When I finally found it, the sun was almost down, but the engine was a pretty sight. It was a big, 10 horsepower Sparta Economy! It was getting dark, so rather than trek two hours back around the swamp in unfamiliar woods, I waded back out through the swamp up to my waist.

The next April, I went back with a friend, Dwight Vivas, to get another look at the Sparta engine. I still hadn't decided whether to get the engine, or how I could remove it from where it was sitting on a little hill in the middle of the swamp. After this second look, though, I decided the engine was worth the effort. Now all we had to do was figure out how to get this much iron out of the swamp!!

The next trip in was to break the engine down so it could be moved across the swamp. Dwight and I took the cylinder and connecting rod off in one section, and the base and flywheels made another section. After removing the cylinder, we found the whole base was filled with honeycomb. It was old, and thankfully, it was also empty!

Now I had to put a crew together to execute the plan for retrieval of the Sparta! The crew members were Jim and Flyn Windle, Clyde Adams, Bud Holmes, Edward 'Whit' Whitman, Dwight Vivas, David Frazier, Dave Ferguson, and myself.

Whit brought an old International Cub tractor, and I brought over 200 feet of steel cable, come-alongs, and snatch block. We met at about 8:00 a.m. on a hot morning in June 1993, to go get the big swamp Sparta. The temperature was in the 90s and the humidity was about in the 90s, too!