Cedar Valley Memories

This past weekend was the 10th annual Cedar Valley Memories steam engine show, held just a few miles west of Osage. The show just gets better every year. It was a beautiful day to be outside walking around, enjoying the displays and demonstrations.

I love that these machines and implements are being preserved along with the know-how to use and maintain them, thanks to the many volunteers who work on this year-round. One thought kept running through my mind the whole day – with peak oil right around the corner, who knows but that these skills may be called upon again some day.

One of the most impressive demonstrations was the plowing with this goliath Reeves engine.

It pulled the plow like it was a toy wagon. Each set of blades was individually manned by pulling up a lever to lower the blades and pushing down the lever to raise the blades.

It cut thru the soil like butter. (And beautiful, black Iowa soil it is, too.)

For some reason, this turned out to be one of my favorite pictures of the day.

‘Tis the season for steam engine shows. Zanne over at The Farmers Wife is reporting on one in Illinois.

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7 Responses to Cedar Valley Memories

  1. Zanne says:

    Great pics!! These steam guys are everywhere. The machines are giants – leviathans really. I was totally impressed and machine-wise it usually takes a muscle car to impress me.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for putting these pictures on the web. I am one of the the 2 engineers required to run this engine. I’m the one standing on the steps next to the tank on the engine. I’m also the fireman and my job is to maintain the proper water level in the boiler and fire the boiler to make steam. The engine is rated at 140 horsepower and was the largest cross compound engine that Reeves manufactured. We think this engine was built in 1911 or 1912 and weighs around 26 tons. Because of the size of this engine Reeves included power steering to aid in turning movements. We burn coal for fuel and operate the engine at 175 pounds of steam pressure. We pull 14-14 inch wide bottoms and the engine was rated to pull 20 to 26 bottoms depending on the soil conditions. This engine is the only surviving 40-140 Cross Compound Reeves left that is still in operating condition. I have had the privilege of operating this engine for the past 8 years and am looking forward to many more.E.Gansen

  3. Kate says:

    Hi, I am writing from Amber Books in London. We are putting together a book called Mega Machines which includes the Reeves 40-140.We have a short piece of text about the tractor but I have been unable to find any photos, which are necessary for the entry. However I have just come across your photos of the 40-140 and I would be really grateful if you would grant us permission to use them and if you can send them to me – you would receive full credit.Please contact me at kate@amberbooks.I look forward to hearing from you soon.Best WishesKate

  4. Anonymous says:

    The guy running the engine is my dad, Jim Bodenham of Riceville, Ia. He has been running this engine for several years. You will see him at many northern iowa shows, both operating and maintaining the machinery. he is a real-life fix-it-yourself kind of engineer, not the “dress up and go to the show” engineer type. He loves to help young people get involved in steam power.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I wish to add to the previous comments about Jim Bodenham. Jim is an engineer’s engineer. He doesn’t put on a big show, he just gets in there and does the job. I have known many great engineers in the 40+ years I have been in the hobby, but I have never known anyone any better than Jim. For many years he has put in countless unseen hours keeping these engines running and is a great asset to the shows in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa. He is one of the reasons that our mechanical history is preserved and that future generations will be able to see this type of technology. We all owe him a big “Thank You” for his many years of dedicated work.Roger Byrne

  6. Anonymous says:

    My memories of this 40hp Reeves steam engine go back to when I was 11 years old; in 1954. I knew it existed north of where I was raised in Montana’s Judith Basin. I’d visited with the Pugsley Brothers who owned it on the Marias River, where they irrigated with it. It was fired with oil and ran a pump that flowed 8,000 GPM. Ed and Ray Smolik bought it in 1955 I believe and I visited with them about it in 1958 at the Second Annual Blackhawk Show at Cedar Falls, Iowa. I was invited to run it in 1992 when Randy schwerin was engineer at Cedar Falls. Last August, Jim Bodenheim and Elijah Gansen allowed my son Mike and me to both plow with it. It meant the world to Mike, as he was soon after deployed to Afghanistan. I know this loomed large in his mind. My thanks to Jim and Elijah seem so insufficient! Of the 50 Reeves 40hp engines built, I’ve traced 16 of them to my state of Montana. This one, #6867, will always loom LARGE, as it still exists. Thanks for giving this engine space on this website!Gary YaegerKalispell, MT

  7. Kristin says:

    My memories of this engine go back many years, you see, my great uncles were Ray and Ed Smolik. Every year we would travel to Cedar Falls to see them and help with the engines. I can still smell the smoke and remember wearing only "chore" clothes because Uncle Ed would speed the log hauler and it would spit embers. My sister used to steer it during our visits. Loved those days.