Sunday, May 10, 2009


Saturday morning I had the joy of attending the spring steam up at Rough and Tumble Engineer's Museum. That is the the day the place gets jumping for the summer, and people make smoke with their antique tractors and steam engines. Not just that, but hit and miss stationaries, vintage natural gas engines, antique tractors, and other assorted equipment our grandfathers would have been comfortable with.

Here is a Photobucket slide show with about sixty images of the morning. Not all that I took, but a good sample. The opportunities for capturing images at Rough and Tumble boggles the mind. Everywhere one turns are tools out of history, all lovingly cared for, and most of them restored to their glory.

I can't fully describe what draws me to old engines like that. It seems to be something visceral, deep inside and engraved on my very bones. The hand of man turned towards creating power. The raw brute force of nature, captured and harnessed by intelligence and ingenuity. The desire to overcome, to do more, to be better. And yes, the very real beauty involved in a craftsman's work.

In every direction, flames roar in fireboxes, breathing life into machines our ancestors built and used. Not just built for utility, but designed with a flare and talent for beautiful lines whenever possible. A control wheel with spokes that curve like a womans thigh, beckoning a caress. An iron casting, unearthly strong but still incised with the makers name in fine copperplate cursive.

In the long, long sheds on the museum grounds, equipment rests quietly, waiting it's turn. More steam tractors..... vintage garden tillers..... marine engines..... trucks from
the far past. In one, a White dump bed truck with a New York license plate from 1930. This truck, as much as any other rig, stopped me in my tracks. You see... my father was raised in upstate New York, and he talked of driving just such a truck in his teen years. In a day when boys became working men at ten and twelve years old, he learned to drive a White brand dump truck before he could shave. The truck in that shed could have been one my father laid hand to.....

I've lived in this part of Pennsylvania for many years, but this Springs steam up was the first time I made my way to Rough and Tumble. It won't be the last.


Old NFO said...

Beautiful photos and beautiful equipment! This like the antique trains is what brings people back year after year; to see, to work on, to be a part of the 'active' history!

JK said...

Fantastic pictures. You have a wonderful ability to capture on film the connection between people, the machines, and the history between them. Thanks for sharing.