Steam Engine and Craft Show fascinates the young and the old

September 24, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER |
  • John Lorenz of Baltimore gets a closer look at this 1912 Peerless Model G 8 horse power steam engine during the 37th annual Smithsburg Steam & Craft Show on Saturday. The engine belongs to Mike Rohrer of Smithsburg and was made in Waynesboro.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

SMITHSBURG, Md. — Chugging out a rhythm punctuated by the occasional "pop," Emily Kline's small 1920 gas Hercules shuddered, but kept on running.

Compared to the 13.5-ton J.I Case steam tractor chewing through mature trees in a matter of seconds at the bottom of the hill, Emily's horse-and-a-half-powered engine seemed a dwarf among giants Saturday at the Smithsburg Steam Engine & Craft Show.

Yet over the screams of steam whistles, the buzz of belt-driven saws and the chatter of about a thousand people, every few minutes Emily's little engine would fill the carnival grounds behind the Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Co. with a clear "pop!"

At 15 years old, the Sabillasville girl is her own pop among the stereotypical din that engine shows are for old men.

"It keeps history alive," she said, adding that engines are something she and her father, Rodney Kline, enjoy together.

Like other exhibitors, the Kline family came Saturday to show their still-working pieces of America's past and talk to inquisitive passers-by.

"It's an excuse to get it out and run it," Kevin Rice of Cascade said of his 1915 Case steam tractor.

Rice rebuilt the tractor in the 1990s and has been coming to the Smithsburg show for more than a decade, he said. On Saturday, his tractor powered a belt-driven saw that was cutting mature trees into planks.

Most of the tractors and engines at the show had been rendered obsolete by advancing technology, Rice said.

Case stopped making steam tractors in the 1920s, even though Rice's powered a Wisconsin saw mill through two world wars, he said.

Emily's little gas engine likely once powered a well pump, Rodney Kline said, while his 12-horsepower 1919 Hercules would have been used by farmers for things such as grinding feed.

The engines might be relics, but fascination with them is far from dead, evidenced by the packed grounds Saturday.

In the past, thousands of people have come to enjoy the show and browse the dozens of craft and food vendors.

Smithsburg High School Athletic Boosters hosts the show as an annual fundraiser, said Dan Rishell, chairman of the event.

While the crowd Saturday might have seemed a bit smaller than usual, Rishell said the boosters still should raise about half of their annual budget through the two-day show.

The show continues today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


If you go

What: Smithsburg Steam Engine and Craft Show

When: Today, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Smithsburg carnival grounds, 22 N. Main St., Smithsburg

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