Museum showcasing steam-powered engine

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July 29, 2014 10:03 AM

Frenchman Butte Museum obtained a new piece for its growing collection earlier this month, a 1903 Case steam-powered tractor. - Christopher W. Brown Photo

At first glance, it looks like a relic that wouldn’t be able to do much, but back in the early 1900s it was the most advanced form of agriculture equipment on the market.

Tom Hougham, president of the Frenchman’s Butte Museum, said that having the Case steam engine tractor, which is on loan from Donald and William Holt, at the museum will bring a different group of people through the facility.

Hougham said that the engine specifications were top of the line for an engine that was built in the early 1900s.

“This engine could make up to 25 horse power on the draw bar, and 75 horse power on the belt, and the reason for that was because it took so much horse power to drive the weight of the steam engine,” he said.

Houghman said that the Case steam engine tractor was used to pull ploughs and also drove thrashing machines.

“You would usually see the photos of the steam engine pulling ploughs, but this one that we have here at the museum wouldn’t probably pull that much,” he said. “The horse power if you think about it, compared to today’s horse power is in terms of speed, and this was slow, but it pulled a lot.”

Having a Case steam engine, when the first came out was a rarity, according to Hougham.

“The first people to own a case steam engine was a family, and they came and homesteaded, they homesteaded close together, so they could use the tractor on several farms.”

In order to use the Case steam engine three people would be required to work on the tractor, Hougham said.

History of this Case steam engine

Coming into possession of the steam engine has been a long task, according to Hougham.

“The Holt Family had this in their procession, since 1966, and they acquired it from a family up in Cherry Grove. The family in Cherry Grove had used it in a saw mill,” he said.

“Pete Holt bough it, and since 1974 it had been sitting in his shed. He wanted it somewhere people could see it, and they wanted it some place where people could enjoy it.”

Hougham said that Frenchman Butte Museum has always been a place where people come to experience the history of the community.

“We thought it would be a great attraction for the museum to have and a great addition to the museum,” he said.

Having the steam engine on the museum grounds now means a lot to the museum board, according to Hougham.

“This will now be one of the many items we will be trying to promote, so we can get people to come in and see it and the whole museum.”

The Frenchman Butte Museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from today till Labour Day.

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