(By Greg Rourke) – It’s the second weekend of August, and the air north of Sycamore, Illinois is thick with coal smoke…it must be time for the Northern Illinois Steam Power Club Show and Threshing Bee!
For 61 years the club has put on a display and demonstration of steam power of all sorts, as well as antique gasoline and diesel tractors large and small. Steam tractors were powering a thresher, a hay baler, a corn sheller and a sawmill. A steam shovel was moving the same pile of dirt back and forth. A huge steam engine that once powered a refrigerated warehouse was running at 30 RPM all weekend. At noon each day every steam whistle on the property blew. At 130 each day nearly every operational piece of equipment on the farm made a parade lap. In addition to this there was hit and miss engines powering all sorts of stuff, from pumps and washing machines to a can crusher which seemed a bit of overkill but the kids seemed to like it.
Watching this equipment running with 50 foot long leather belts flopping around and all sorts of exposed gears and linkages with any sort of guard absent it makes one wonder how any farmers survived with all their extremities intact. If you like this sort of thing, these shows exist all over. Or just make it to the Taylor Marshall Farm next year on the second weekend in August.