| May/June 1985

Bob Mattix

Bob Mattix entering the brick power house with the original Fairbanks' Morse sign overhead.

R. R. 2, box 178 Arcola, IL 61910

Located in the center of the State of Illinois is a small rural farm called Garrett. The town is occupied by a population of townspeople who now work at many different occupations rather than solely farm related type jobs. Situated in the center of this town is a familiar sight as in most rural to was the local grain elevator. Standing majestically with its grain towers pointing towards the heavens reminding us of a time when the independent grain elevator was the mainstay of the town, where friends met, grain prices were discussed, local news was passed on, and checks were issued to provide the farmer with another year of working capital. Such elevators were almost always powered around the turn of the century by large gasoline engines and Garrett was no exception. In a small brick power house by the elevator was a beautiful, well kept, 25 HP Fairbanks-Morse Type N engine with the farmer's match igniter, patent 1905. The engine, according to owner Bob Matrix, had been installed in the power house in 1905 and operated until 1980 when Bob utilized it for the last time. My son Rick and I were visiting with Bob on Saturday when in the course of the conversation the old engine came up and what was to become of it in the years to come. Bob, who had been attending the Douglas County Historical Steam Festival at Arcola, Illinois for a number of years said that it sure would be nice to see the engine exhibited at the show. Before Rick and I could respond Bob continued to say that if it would help the show, he would like to donate the engine to the show. Well, who could dispute the fact that the engine would not only help the show by indicating growth, but it also would be one of the main attractions for spectators to enjoy. We happily agreed to Bob's generous offer and plans for removal and moving of the engine began. As we left Bob that day he told us how he used to put a tin can over the exhaust of the engine and when the engine started it would shoot the can across the street much to the amusement of the children of the town. Bob also is involved with children who are not so fortunate as dipicted by the certificate on the elevator office wall certifying that Bob is an active member in the Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children. In the Spring, 1984, Russell Helm, Millard Dukeman, Bryon Dukeman, Russ Cade, Clifford Williams, Major Bragg, Rick Nolan, Bob Mattix, and his assistant Rick, were all gathered for the major operation of removal. To make a long story short, a wall was removed, anchor bolts cut, rollers made, jacks installed, and the engine was ready for removal. The engine was removed with two winch cables and lots of muscle and patience. Thanks to Bob and the assistance of all the men mentioned the Douglas County Historical Steam Festival has taken another step forward in the establishment of a rare permanent installation. I have enclosed some photographs which illustrate the removal and the new setting for the engine.