Monday, June 30, 2014

Hesston Steam Museum

Last year we visited the Hesston Steam Museum, east of Michigan City, Indiana, since I needed a steam fix, but for some reason I never posted a trip report.  Better late than never, I hope.

The museum has railroad trackage of four different gauges: 3', 2', 15", and 7 1/2".  Each has a loop through the woods and fields of about a mile or so.  We'll go from largest to smallest.  

The only 3' locomotive appears to be this Shay, which was not fired up that day.  The first mainline loop is dual gauge, 2' and 3'.  Here's an example of a three-rail switch.  Is there any other 2'-3' dual gauge trackage anywhere?

A 2' gauge tank from Czechoslovakia (I think) was running.  We rode the open cars, built on flat car frames.

Here's the connection between the locomotive and its three-car passenger train.  And the line has some pretty steep grades.  That's why we rode the open cars.  I told my wife to be ready to follow instructions.

And on the 15" line, we rode the Kiddieland train.   I can remember this equipment from when it was running at the park in Maywood, back in the good old days.  This is the Hudson; the Northern was back in the shop. 

One of the more interesting things for me is that Hesston has the complete collection of Elliott Donnelley's 15" gauge railroad from his estate in Lake Forest.  My father worked for R. R. Donnelley, and I can remember visiting Mr. Donnelley's home to ride the trains a couple of times.

The line was called the "Stet & Query Central"; "stet" and "query" are proofreading terms that anybody in the printing business would recognize.

And of course Mr. Donnelley was also an important friend of IRM in its early days; he purchased and donated our Shay, for instance.


It looks like I didn't take any pictures of the little trains, most of which I believe are privately owned and brought in by the owners.

There are two or three pieces of standard-gauge equipment on display.

And a number of steam tractors, stationary engines, and miscellaneous mechanical devices.

Finally, Doc's Soda Fountain is quite impressive.

Since it was a busy day and a lot of different things were operating, it was certainly an enjoyable visit.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post about Hesston. It indeed is quite an interesting place. That little doodlebug is one of my favorite contraptions. FYI, the "grand scale" train there is 14 1/8" gauge. 15" gauge can be found a ways north at the House of David in Benton Harbor.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the trip report. I have read about that operation with the multiple gauges; but I have not seen pictures before.

I am glad you are having a good summer.

Ted miles
IRM Member