I was rolling down the mountain at a good clip when I spotted a gaudily painted engine parked beside the highway. I eventually got turned around and headed back for a look. I pulled off the road and got out my camera to snap a few pictures.
I shot several different views and was about to get back in my truck when I happened to glance across the road. Amazing the whole side of the mountain was littered with old machines. As I stood there looking a state trooper pulled up and asked if I was having car trouble. I told him I was just looking at the old engines and he nodded and drove off. I crossed the highway and walked a short distance up a side road before I spotted the small coffin that served as a no trespassing sign and turned back. I hadn't gone far when Clyde pulled up and wanted to know if I had been on his land. I convinced him that his sign had done it's job and that I was interested in portable steam engines. Like most collectors he enjoyed talking about his hobby and graciously invited me to a tour of his museum.
I spent more than an hour wandering over several acres covered with rows of tractors. There were McCormick Deerings dating from the 20's and 30's, Fordson's, John Deers and others that I couldn't even guess who made.
There were boilers stripped of their engines and plumbing and in every stage of disassembly. I asked Clyde if he restored or sold them but no, he just collected them. Restoration was pretty much limited to a coat of paint to slow the rust down.
It was a memorable afternoon on a perfect fall day and the high point of my vacation trip to the mountains. I have not been back that way in the years since and couldn't say if the engines and tractors I saw are still there but I hope they are. They seemed to be at home on the side of that mountain.
Text and photos by Steve Ritch all rights reserved.