Steam back in time at Doughty Valley

File photo. The power of steam will be harnessed in demonstrations as part of Doughty Valley Steam Days set for July 26, 27 and 28 just off State Route 557, between Berlin and Charm.

*This story first appeared in The Budget’s July 18, 2018, Local Edition.

By Beverly Keller
The Budget

Raw power will be on unleashed in Charm as part of the 18th annual Doughty Valley Steam Days.

The roar as coal is fired up to boil water will be heard. The fire will power equipment that results in a thick black smoke. The smoke carries a gentle rain of coal particles. The smell of sulfur transports visitors back in time.

Organizers of the antique farm machinery reunion are excited to welcome one and all Thursday, Friday and Saturday (July 26 – 28) to their home on State Route 557 near Charm in the beautiful rolling hills of Holmes County.

There will be a vast array of fully-operational exhibits set in an “on-the-farm” atmosphere that will surely be interesting and educational for people of all ages. The event offers the unique opportunity to experience the raw power of steam that was harnessed over 100 years ago. Literally, dozens of working demonstrations will take place over the three-day event.

During the great age of steam, it was steam that powered mills, lighted cities and broke the prairie of the Great Plains. Gasoline engines were common for small power needs where electricity was not available, but for big jobs, only steam-powered engines were up to the task. The participants of the Doughty Valley Steam Days gather to reminisce and bring the past to life for all that visit.

Last year’s event included a host of different portable and traction engines ranging from 6 to 125 horsepower. A variety of manufacturers will be represented including Advance, Rumely, Russell, Case, Baker, Frick, Geiser, and Huber. The event has grown to be the largest gathering of steam engines in Eastern Ohio, with some traveling over 100 miles to be part of the reunion that began in 2001 as a small “get-together” for locals.

Demonstrations of steam threshing, baling, plowing and sawing will be active all day. Visitors can also expect to see dozens of preserved and restored antique flywheel-engines and tractors running interesting farm machines in operational displays. Field demonstrations of horse and steam plowing are also planned – something that is anything but commonplace these days. Steam plowing was a common use for steam tractors on the open prairies, not on the hills of Eastern Ohio where horses were more practical. Organizers emphasized that there will likely not be an idle belt all day.

Evening events are set for those who wish to stop in after work. Thursday at 6 p.m., a draft pony pull will be held. Local teams of horses will be utilized to pull a dead-weight sled. Thursday night will also feature music from High Country Bluegrass at 7 p.m.

At 5 p.m. on Friday, an old-fashioned tractor pull will take place. Friday night will also feature a pull-off. While most would think the pull-off would be steam engine versus steam engine, that is not the case. This is a competition of men versus machine. Music from the Liberated Gospel Band will start at 7 p.m.

Capping off Friday night’s fun will be a “spark show” as engines will be fired up and their smokestacks will literally shower sparks for all to see. The event could be described as a shower of sparks that looks like fans of rain as they blanket the field.

Saturday morning will allow the tractors to compete once more in tests of skill that range from a Block Race to Gate Race and even a Belting Contest.

Food will be offered throughout the event from local vendors and is expected to include ice cream churned by a hit-n-miss engine, homemade pretzels, kettle corn, barbecued chicken, pork ribs and all the fixings and much more.

A craft and flea market is also planned as part of the event. A tent will be provided to house several static displays that will be a part of the show.

The Doughty Valley Steam Days antique farm machinery reunion is held near Charm, at 5023 State Route 557 next to the Guggisburg Swiss Inn. Gates open for spectators at 7 a.m. each day. Admission for those 12 and older is just a $4 donation to help defray costs of the event. Memberships are available for $8 per person and allow free admission into the event. Parking is free. For more info, call Jr. Schrock at 330-763- 0303.