See history in action at the Tuscarawas County Fairgrounds during the 49th annual Dover Steam Show

Published: 07/31/2012

by Teri Stein


Combining the outdoors and history is good, but throw in the sights, sounds, and the excitement of a century-old steam engine working as well as the day it was made and it’s perfect. Experience this and more at the 49th annual Dover Steam Show at the Tuscarawas County Fairgrounds August 17-19, hosted by the Tuscarawas Valley Pioneer Power Association (TVPPA).

“These are the machines that built America,” said Huck Smith, president of the TVPPA, of the steam engines. “They didn’t just work on the farm; they milled the lumber for buildings, graded roads, and cleared land. Any task that was done by multiple horses could be done by one steam engine.”

Steam power was invented in the late 1600s, but it wasn’t until the mid-1800s that it was perfected so that steam engines could move themselves.

The steam engine was the cutting edge technology of its time. “All are run by the same system, but it was interesting to see how the different manufacturers thought they had the edge on the others (with different features),” said Smith.

This year’s Dover Steam Show will feature Allis Chalmers antique tractors, orchard equipment, oil field engines and portable steam engines. The show will also feature 14 full-size steam engines, a steam powered saw mill, wheat threshing, gas and kerosene tractors, and hit and miss engines which were used to grind grain into animal feed, pump water, operate grain elevators and a multitude of other tasks.

Friday night will feature an antique tractor pull for Allis Chalmers only and Saturday evening will be an antique tractor pull for all types. A kiddie tractor pull will be featured Saturday afternoon at 1:30.

A daily admission is charged for visitors, or memberships, which are good for admission to all three days of the show, may be purchased at a savings. Overnight camping is available at a per night charge.

Plan to get there early, around 7:30 to 8 a.m., when the engines will be firing up for the day. “It’s a great time to ask questions. Everyone there encourages questions – we want people to learn from this,” said Joe Harrison, of Scio, a member of the TVPPA.

Food will be available on the grounds so stay until noon and cover your ears; noon is when everyone blows their whistles to signal lunch.

Harrison, along with another TVPPA member, Todd Young, has been involved with steam engines since their grandparents got them interested. “I was always envious because Joe and Todd grew up with grandparents who did this stuff,” said Smith.

Harrison has a Russell steam engine that has been in his family since the 1950s, and Young’s steam engine has been in his family since 1941. Todd’s son, Cameron, 10, is the fourth generation in his family to take an interest in the hobby. “I like running the steam engines,” Cameron said of his favorite part of the hobby.

“This is a passion of ours. To take a couple of pickup loads of parts and put them together so it runs like it used to run is very satisfying,” said Smith.

“I just fell in love with steam – the power of it and the history of it. Some of the engines are over 100 years old and each one has a story,” said Tiffani Bennethum of Dalton. “I really enjoy it. It’s a fun hobby and the people are great.” The first steam show she attended was the Dover Steam Show five years ago and Tiffani plans to attend the Dover show again this year. “Two years ago I got my historical boiler operators license.”

With the wide variety of steam engines and antique equipment, no show is ever the same twice. “It’s something you need to come and experience,” said Rick Logan, a member of the TVPPA.