New York and Pennsylvania
Our whirlwind, four and a half day tour of New England was over, and the next stage of the adventure ready to start. This was the part where we met up with old friends and new engines!
The final place on our list of things to do before that was the Watervliet Military Arsenal Museum, in Albany, New York. Mindful of the need to be on the other side of New York State by early to mid afternoon, we arrived promptly as the museum opened and were soon receiving a personal guided tour by the curators, from the intricately cast cannons to the bunker-buster of the Gulf War. The museum is on the site of the longest continuously producing arsenal in the States, from 1813 to the present and even one of the buildings, made of cast iron, is an historic monument. This building is to house a line-shaft driven machine shop, and given our interest in engines, we were taken behind the scenes to see progress here, and then into the air-conditioned vault to see weapons not yet on show. Tom was in his element identifying many of the more recent armaments and would happily have stayed all day!
We eventually got back to our vehicle, pointed it west and set off on a non-stop drive to Craig Prucha's in Pavillion, New York. Fortunately, Craig had provided us with excellent directions and we had no trouble finding his place, where we soon joined the Webre clan from Broussard, Lousisiana having a great time playing with Craig's big toys! After we'd started up several engines, fired a few coffee cans into the high blue yonder and toured the workshop, we all headed to Stiles Bradley's, a few miles away and another spectacular engine collection. Finally, Steve Webre's new purchase, a 20HP Simplex, was hitched to his Suburban and we set off towards Buffalo, NY. Both the Webres and ourselves had seen Niagara Falls by daylight, but we were keen to see it by night too. Together, we found a motel, left Steve's vehicle and trailer in a corner of the carpark and went to eat before going to see the Falls from the Canadian side. About halfway there, we suddenly realised that none of us were too sure of the exact location of the motel .... There was a distinct possibility of phoning all the motels in the area to ask if they had a large oilfield engine parked in a corner of the parking lot!
The Falls light show was spectacular, but after such a long day there were several nodding heads on the way back to the motel!
The drive west and south to Pittsburgh the next day was relatively straight forward. In fact, Jim declared it the best scenery he'd had while driving! The pulling power of the Suburban was put to a severe test finding Arnie Fero's place as the hills around there are no joke! When we arrived, Arnie was putting the finishing touches to his welcome arrangements - namely posters on the doors of the house and engine shed warning of foot-and-mouth disease restrictions!!!
We were really looking forward to the evening's entertainment - a cookout at Dave Rotigel's. Not because Dave's cooking is gourmet chef standard (although I was most impressed by his skill with a barbeque), but because Jim would finally meet Tillie, the 15HP BD Tillinghast oilfield engine I had bought for his 40th birthday earlier in the year and which had been restored by Dave, Arnie and other great friends.
The silver tarpaulin covering her was drawn back ... and there she was in all her glory, complete with bobbing helium balloons! What a fantastic moment!! It wasn't long before Steve and Arnie were in position on the flywheels, with John Fankhauser at the busy end showing Jim how to get her started. Tillie ran until long after dark, when John's wife, Betty, called everyone in for a belated birthday cake. Betty, with wide-eyed innocence, told Jim she had made him a family recipe sponge cake, handed him a knife and orchestrated the singing. She watched with a perfectly evil grin as Jim did battle ... before confessing that it really WAS a sponge cake!!!!
Due to our hire vehicle lacking any means of towing, the only way to get Tillie to Portland was for Jim and Dave to make an extra trip out there with Tillie, then come back to get Dave's engine. While they were away, we spent a day at Sandcastle Water Park, and on the last day before heading to Portland, went to Titusville to learn something of the history of oil production at the site of Drake's first oil well, and also to visit the longest continuously producing oil well, the McClintock Well, which first produced oil in August 1861.
That evening, the vehicles were loaded and trailer prepared, ready for Portland 2001!!