History of the Northern Illinois Steam Power Club

Rupert Jordan had always been interested in steam power. In 1954 Chuck Raymond and LeRoy Levine bought a steam engine which was in the DeKalb Centennial Parade in 1956.This created interest among steam buffs who got together and compiled a list of people they thought would be interested in forming a club. They advised them of a planned meeting for the middle of February.

The First Membership Meeting

On February 16, 1957 this group met at Halverson’s Implement Co. in DeKalb to organize. A motion picture “When Steam Was King” shown through the courtesy of the J.I. Case Company and William Halverson was enjoyed by the 150 people present. Brief remarks by Rupert Jordan and Chuck Raymond urged the formation of a club. Rupert Jordan was elected chairman and on a motion duly made and seconded the name of “Northern Illinois Steam Power Club” was officially adopted. Dues were agreed to be $1.00 per year and 49 people registered for membership. The following names were submitted for the Board of Directors and were elected by unanimous vote: A.C. Otto, Charles Raymond, Rupert Jordan, Leonard Smith, LeRoy Levine, Ed Smith, Newton Gould, John Allen, Waite Embree and Bob Stenholm. Other initial members of the club were: Harvey Bott, Ariel Lee, Floyd Newhall, Jim McCann, James Jarvis, Elmer Haire, Ed Ernest, F.C. Peterson, C.D. Rote, Bill Halverson, Ernest Clarke, David Jordan, Bill Fitzgerald, Darwin Smith, Francis Lannan, Ed Raymond, Elmer Engstrom, Crill Brown, Frank Jones, Isaac Jacox, Edwin Maynard, Robert Thayer, Maynard Petersen, John Lundin, Clarence Yeager, John Maynard Jr., Gordon R. Gray, T.H. Smith, A.J. Dierzen, A.W. Dierzen, A.W. Hauge, Larry Levine, Bob Greenaway, Roy Briggs, Myron Madison, H.M. Reckinger, Charles Merrill, Jerome Petersen, Aaron Hanses and Alvin Miller.

The First Board Meeting

The Board of Directors held it’s first meeting one week later on February 23rd at the old Chronicle office in DeKalb. Officers elected were: Rupert Jordan, President; Waite Embree, Vice President and Chuck Raymond, Secretary-Treasurer. Constitution and By-Laws were approved. These have been amended several times with the newest one being dated October 1967. The Board was increased from 10 to 14 in 1958 and from 14 to 20 in 1962. Election of 10 directors takes place at the September meeting and all members are entitled to vote. In 1964 dues were increased to $1.50 per yea.

The year 2001 marked the 45th Annual Threshing Bee for the Northern Illinois Steam Power Club. The first one was held at John Allen’s Corners in Hampshire. We have four meetings each year (of which members are notified by mail). These are held on the first Saturday in March, the fourth Sunday in June, the fourth Saturday in September and the second Sunday in December. The Club gavel, made in the form of a steam whistle, was made by Floyd Newhall from a black walnut tree cut down in the yard of Rupert Jordan in 1958. The tree was planted in 1853 by Rupert Jordan’s Great Grandfather. Mr. Newhall presented this to the club at the March meeting in 1958. It is still used today.

2001 And Moving Ahead

We continue to try to make the “Sycamore Show” as it has become to be known as a friendly place among the beautiful shade trees to visit and exhibit. We continue to make new attractions to interest everyone. The big Vilter Tandem Compound Corliss Stationary Steam Engine and Ammonia Compressor is quite a sight and has been operational since 1999. We are also proud to have one of two remaining 1918 John Deere “Joe Dain” All-Wheel-Drive tractors. The machine was generously donated to the Club.

Our newest large addition is a Steam Traction Engine built by the Illinois Thresher Company right in our hometown of Sycamore, Illinois. It is the first traction engine owned by the club and was purchased in late 2003. For more information please visit our page on The Illinois Engine.

Membership is open to all…you need not have equipment to be a member…all you have to be is interested.

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