The incredible power of the steam engine was on full display this weekend in Mitchell County, as the county’s Historical Society and The Cedar Valley Memories Museum hosted the 22nd Annual ‘Cedar Valley Memories’ Steam Engine Power Show on August 12 and 13, at the Cedar Valley Memories Museum outside of Osage.
The Museum’s rich tapestry of antique farm implements from a bygone era were paired with displays from exhibitors from all over the Cedar Valley, who showcased their unique and rare collections of tools, mechanisms and machinery of all sorts that were used helped make Iowa one of the dominant agricultural forces after the advent of steam power brought us the industrial revolution.
For those like Pat Huebsch who have attended all 22 years of the show, it’s an incredible feeling to see first hand the advancements not only in the technology, but in the level of interest in the area’s history as well, as evidenced by the constantly growing scope of the Power Show. “We were lucky to have six old tractors on display back when we first started, and this year there’s more than sixty-five, so it shows you just how much pride people can take in their area’s history.”
Visitors of the Power Show throughout the weekend awed as they saw demonstrations of the museum’s ‘crown jewel’, a 1912 Reeves 40-140 cross-compound steam engine, plowing through the field just as it plowed through the prairie grass more than a century ago. The 26 ton engine, restored in 1955, is not only the largest known steam traction engine in the world, but the only one of it’s kind to still be in working operation today.
The show also gave visitors a first-hand look at machinery used on the farms and factories after steam power brought about the industrial and agricultural revolution. 1920’s era circular knitting machines from Fox River Mills, mechanical oat threshers, corn shellers, water pumps, irrigation pumps and tractors, trowels, wood cutters, mowers and pre-Caterpiliar heavy movers were just a few of the numerous working displays that chugged along and churned out their respective tasks throughout the weekend to the enjoyment and fascination of the curious minds who viewed them.
Jim Havig is another proud Mitchell Countian who donates his time as the groundskeeper and serves on the board member for the show and museum, and he is just one of the many who can be seen at the show shuttling around the visitors all over the grounds pointing out any and all of the intriguing aspects for every display in sight. The event, along with the museum, is run entirely by volunteers like Jim with a passion for the history and heritage for the equipment and the lessons it can bring. “There’s always gonna be more history to learn about, so we are always looking for more displays to showcase.”
For the shoppers; all weekend long the museum offered souvenirs, T-shirts, books, crafts for sale, as well as a bountiful flea market, and back by popular demand was the silent auction, selling homemade crafts and edibles to the Power Show’s patrons.
Whether a shopper, hobbyist, craftsman, engineer, or just a curious spectator, the Cedar Valley Memories Power Show provides everyone with a prideful reminder of our area’s history, and will, as history does, continue to do so for years to come.