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Make it a steam-y holiday weekend

September 1, 2018

HESSTON — You always hear about the last blast of summer, but not always from a fully functional steam locomotive like those you’ll see at the Hesston Steam Museum’s 62nd annual Labor Day Weekend Steam and Power Show.

The big machines are entertaining for all ages as they operate just as they did when used to make tasks easier and more efficient. It’s educational and fun to ride steam trains to the many turn-of-the-century demonstrations of steam power.

Museum volunteers will welcome the local branch of the International Harvester Collectors Club and their very special tractor. Visiting with other members of Northern Indiana Chapter 33 is Eric Best of Wanatah, who will debut his rare, giant 1913 International Harvester Mogul 30-60 tractor. Weighing about 23,000 pounds, the huge machine is one of seven 30-60 Moguls left in the world.

Using a mechanical igniter to start the gasoline- or kerosene-fueled 2-cylinder opposed engine (the first engine designed for tractor use), this monster was used for breaking tough prairie sod and threshing, as well as operating belt-driven machines and sawmills.

Far more powerful than the team of horses used in the early 1900s (30 hp at the drawbar and 60 hp at the belt), it was also faster and more simple to run than the steam-powered tractors of the day, since there was no need to build a fire to run a boiler, nor any lengthy post-operation procedure.

Other attractions include riding behind a 67-ton 1929 Shay logging locomotive; a replica 1900s train depot, steam-powered sawmill cutting logs into lumber, the La Porte County Courthouse’s first electric generator plant, steam tractors, steam crane, and three sizes of trains on three different track routes you can ride.

A Labor Day flea market will offer everything from antiques and railroad memorabilia to arts and crafts.

The show runs for four days, Friday through Monday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission to the grounds is: $5 for adults, with children 12 and under free. Train rides are $5 for adults and $3 for kids 3 - 12 (2 and under ride free). And Friday is Senior Day, with half-price admission and rides for seniors. Parking is free.

Take I-94 to Michigan exit 1, then south to CR-1000N; or take the Indiana Toll Road to exit 49, then north on Ind. 39 to CR-1000N and follow the signs. For more info, visit hesston.org.

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