A Case of steam


restored case steam tractor

Somehow you just don’t expect to see a well restored Case steam tractor in a parking lot, but there it was in all its glory. I saw a similar tractor on the web that could be had for a paltry $29,500. No home is complete without one.

Old Case steam tractor

Getting a closer look at the cylinder, connecting rod and crankshaft.

New Orleans street musicians

Click on the musicians to see the full size picture and read the story that goes with it.

On the way to my mother-in-law’s birthday celebration a few days back, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a well restored Case steam powered tractor in a business parking lot in Benton, Arkansas. Since one does not encounter such a beast often, I did a walk-around to record the beast. I found no owners to regale me with facts, but a little web research leads me to believe it is a 75 horsepower tractor which the J. I. Case Company manufactured in the neighborhood of 1912. But don’t bet the farm on that conjecture.

This will be the second Weekly Grist in a row which makes no attempt to foist clever observations or considered opinions on you. This is just for fun and just for looking. And speaking of looking, take a look at some energetic New Orleans street musicians on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com shot in the Crescent City in 2007.

Here’s the tractor walk-around:

back view antique case steam tractor

Here’s a good look at the control room. The originals did not have a seat, but had a more ornate arrangement than what you see here.

Back of antique case steam tractor

Leaning to the left the driver has to look over a steam cylinder, Looking to the right, one must peer around the flywheel. Maybe a periscope would be handy?

left side of antique case steam tractor

The conglomeration behind the smoke stake is the steam cylinder, the part that makes it go and sound like a choo-choo.

Close of of cylinder on steam tractor

A closer look at the cylinder and the engine goodies.

front view of antique case steam tractor

A parting frontal view. I wish the utility pole in the background was not there, but then this shot is not destined for museum showing so I guess it is OK.

Parting shot

The are thousands of acres of winter wheat here in LA that is near harvest ripeness. Late in the afternoon last week this patch caught my eye, the sun was just about to dip below the treeline nearby, so this is a good as it was going to get. “And now as the sun sinks slowly in the west, I bid you adieu.”

The sun is nearly gone. As its swansong for the day, it back lights this winter wheat on Grider Field - Ladd Road near Pine Bluff AR.

The sun is nearly gone. As its swansong for the day, the golden orb back-lights this winter wheat on Grider Field – Ladd Road near Pine Bluff AR.

Thanks,
Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.

http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

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Star Daze 2013


Child dragon ride at carnival

As opposed to Moloch, this monster accepts children for mild-mannered fun. After all, it’s not every day you can take a ride in the belly of a dragon.

During the warmer months, a lot of cities and towns in LA conduct festivals, I surmise, because they are convinced it is the right thing to do. “Star Daze,” in Star City, Arkansas is the first one, held normally in one of the last weeks of April. The Star City folks are rolling the dice with cold and/or rainy weather, but so far, they have won the roll for the most part. This year a bad storm came through the Thursday before the Festival started Friday. If anything, it whetted the appetite of festival goers, because they turned out in droves.

Old Cypress Methodist Church

Click on the church for pix and story.

Before we go too much further, see what we came across earlier in the day about forty miles or so to the northwest: a well preserved, 127-year-old-house-of-worship, Old Cypress Methodist Church. According to the sign on the church, it dates back to 1886.

We are a bit mystified by the name, since it sits in the Piney Hills, not the cypress lands of the Delta. The grounds include a well-tended cemetery and a I got a half-way decent shot of the interior through the window. See the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com for the pictures and story.

children in dragon ride at star daze festival

The dragon’s brother, sister, and/or cousin provides smiles for more children.

Shooting at festivals is fun because that’s the whole idea and most of the attendees buy into that concept.  With many of these articles, I attempt to include a deeper meaning or some redeeming values, but this one has only one purpose: to show people having fun.

band performing at Star Daze

A band, the name of which escapes me, is loudly spewing rock-a-billy with a soul flair to a large crowd. The lead singer’s tune at this point assured the crowd that he was “country,” in the lyrics.

crazy plane ride

The Crazy Plane flies a closed loop and is not affected by the current FAA cutbacks. Is it crazy because the wings look backward?

Couple rides om Scrambler

The “Scrambler” attracts a teen age audience who appreciate a cheap thrill.

Girls riding scrambler

More Scrambler riders one of which is either camera shy or can’t stand the site of whirling real estate.

Three people riding the 'scrambler" at star daze

The guy in the center is hollering “take my picture.” He got his way.

Yellow rubber ducks at Star Daze.

Rubber Ducks swim in a circle offering prizes and awaiting selection. The takes were few and far between.

Star Daze midway

The midway was lively late Saturday afternoon and more people were arriving than leaving. A measure of success, one presumes.

Occasionally, it is balm for the being to do something just for fun. If that is true, a lot of souls were slathered with good at Star Daze, including yours truly.

Thanks,
Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.

http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

Compress no more


Old water tower and building at former Federal Compress in Pine Bluff Arkansas

This building and water tower are all that’s left of the former Federal Compress and Cotton Warehouse on West 6th Avenue in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The original facility stretched for two or three city blocks and was a beehive of activity during cotton harvesting season. Advancing agricultural technology put compresses in the same category as high-button shoes, buggy-whips, and the Edsel.

Back in the day when cotton was King, most LA cities and towns of any size had a cotton compress (or two). The compresses received baled cotton from local gins and then compressed  the bales to a smaller size, around 60% of their original size, which made storing and shipping more efficient. Most of the compresses operated on steam as did this one, the Federal Compress in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Old Coca-Cola sign

Click on the sign to see more.

While we are on the subject of “back in the day,” let me direct you to see an old Coca-Cola wall sign, painted I’m thinking sometime around 1907. The sign is on Main Street here in Pine Bluff, so locals can go ogle it, if so disposed. Go to the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com to see the sign and graze through some commentary.

When gin operators discovered high-capacity hydraulic presses, they eliminated the need for the trip to the compress, sounding the death knell for these businesses. There was one other compress  in Pine Bluff, the Pine Bluff Compress and Warehouse Company. It is now leveled. The only evidence remaining of its former presence are a few concrete piers.

Old water tower and building at former Federal Compress

Here is a toads-eye view of the tower. The wide angle lens gives a, shall we say, “towering” appearance.

Old compress water tower and building on same premises as an ice company

The old building and water tower now share real estate with a modern ice plant. Steam to ice in one generation, quite a transition. Shot across the street from the old compress premises.

A straight on shot from the edge of the premises gives you a more accurate view of the proportions of the building and tower,

A straight-on shot from the edge of the premises gives you a more accurate view of the proportions of the building and tower.

Though the economic value of compresses has long since met its demise, there is still historic value to that part of our background. Investors made commitments and provided a needed service. They created jobs that put food on family tables. Even the compress steam whistles were a dependable time check for neighbors. Compresses were a mainstay made obsolete. There’s a lesson there somewhere.

Streetscape in Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Three generations of signs speak to the history of this corner in my hometown of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. We see a venerable financial institution well over 100 years in business, a beloved local merchant no longer in business and the new occupant of the premises, a church with a neon slogan. Time and life goes on.

Sometimes a swing back in time is good for the soul. I trust this one was to you.

Thanks,
Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.

http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html