Many of you know about the 4 seasons of the year: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Did you know, there is another season? Steam Season.
Steam Season for my husband and I begins in May with Mother's Day weekend and flows into late September. It all began about a decade ago when my husband attended steam school in Forest City, Iowa and became hooked on these quiet, powerful workhorse steam giants. In his hometown of Westby, Wisconsin steam was used to sterilize the tobacco beds and there were some local steam engines that helped with this task. His love of steam began at an early age. Being able to actually operate steam fueled an unquenchable passion for him and as a family we began attending area steam shows. There were two summers in particular that our daughter, planned our weekends around area steam shows.1909 Nichols & Shepard 16HP Double Side Mount.....because steam engines are like popcorn. You can't have enough.
Our travels took us anywhere the car could drive to and from in a day and that circle became larger as the summer went on. Our local show in Rochester, MN has Days of Yesteryear and features corn shelling, a pedal powered wood working shop, summer kitchen, blacksmithing, school, historical barn and baseball, a Case Steam engine on the sawmill, broom making and so much more. Travel to Mabel and you have the most amazing all town parade with food tents run by the local Lutheran churches that have real homemade pie, homemade ice cream that is churned with steam power, steam engines of course and more. Travel to Hastings to the Little Log House show and there are historic military reenactments, vintage cars, Historic Porkies Drive Inn with vintage cars, a Church and more. Racine boast beautiful shaded areas, ham and potato lunch, homemade lefse, hit or miss engines, weavers & spinners, steam and more. Le Sueur Minnesota, All you can eat pancakes and bologna start the day, stationary engines, a women's building, scale models, construction equipment, STEAM and more. Until I operated steam myself, the food, the historic buildings, women's crafts, flea markets and the steam were the draw.
Heritage Park in Forest City, Iowa is where we call our steam home. For many years my husband helped as a volunteer engineer for their fall steam show and I set up in the Sewing building with a vintage hand crank sewing machine. Kids of all ages had an opportunity to choose and sew two pieces of fabric together. I dressed in the era of my sewing machine and was surrounded by sewing machines and patterns of all ages.
1923 Nichols & Shephard 20-20 Single Side Mount
Fast forward to a few years ago and we purchased our first steam engine on Mother's Day Weekend. My husband and two friends traversed the country to find our first engine. It is perhaps a bit of a joke, but it is widely known that the steam engine is mine and not his. It is of course, OURS. Until we owned our own, I had observed the entire process from the ground at a fairly safe distance from the blast zone of grease, heat and soot. Now that it is ours, I am a part of the whole process from punching flues, cleaning the ash pan out, greasing up, firing, pulling throttle and driving. It is a thrill and a past time I thoroughly enjoy.Friends helping us get our engine ready to run for the first time.
Recently, my husband and I were steaming up for the Grand National Winnebago WIT rally in Forest City, Iowa where the weather was just shy of 100 degrees, the humidity was out of control and we were operating a steam engine that was fired up to 150 PSI operating a threshing machine. The air was so heavy you could see it, the oat chaff was circulating and life was good. Even with the heat, there is nothing better then taking in a big breath of fresh air, steam engine oil and life on a summer's day.
What I have found in the Steam Community is family. Steam engineers travel to help split wood, fire up and operate and maintain these gentle giants. The engineers come from all walks of life and together we are a steam family that work hard under the hottest suns, share our love of these miraculous engines with others and uphold and cheer each other on through all of Life's twist and turns.
ThreshingRunning the Saw Mill
Going for a Sunday Drive
Getting ready for the day! Punching Flues
Happy Sewing! Joy
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Preserving the summer to enjoy in the winter is a family tradition.
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