Doughty Valley Steam Days Show chugging into Charm

Doughty Valley Steam Days Show chugging into Charm
Dave Mast

The annual Doughty Valley Steam Days show was created to keep the memory of the days of steam alive and well. Doughty Valley Steam Days will chug into Charm July 20-22.


Doughty Valley Steam Days will chug into Charm July 20-22, where a cast of working steam engines will highlight a busy three days of activity featuring the way the world got things moving a century ago.

While the last steam engines were built in the 1920s, the memory and usefulness of the gigantic machines continues to live on through those who promote the important role steam played in the nation’s growth, such as the members of the Doughty Valley Steam Club.

“Our aim is to reminisce and promote the preservation of these great and powerful machines,” committee member John Leck said. “For 23 years we have been bringing steam back to showcase the sheer power and beauty of these engines. We are now more than four generations away from people who actually used these steam engines to work the land, and we don’t want that part of our history to disappear.”

Thus, the club brings many newly restored and old steam engines to the farm to work together for the three days.

The show will be loaded with demonstrations and activities featuring antique gas engines, old-time machinery, steam-powered sawmills, oil field engines, a shingle mill, antique tractors, steam engines and grain threshing, all driven by the power of steam.

This year’s event also will feature John Deere tractors and old farm machinery as its theme, as the committee continues to bring new machines into focus each year.

On Thursday, July 20, the antique consignment auction will kick off the festivities at 3 p.m. The draft pony and draft horse pulls will begin at 5 p.m. while local singing group High Country will take center stage at 7 p.m.

On Friday, July 21, the old-fashion tractor pull with two sleds will begin. This event continues to grow in popularity and has become a weekend favorite.

“That show has become a fan favorite, and the nice thing about our show is that it isn’t about winning prize money. It’s about putting on a show for everyone in attendance,” Leck said.

At 7 p.m. singing group Bridgestone will perform. At dusk the popular spark show will set the night sky on fire as some of the steam engines crank up the heat to produce glowing sparks that will rise into the air and create an orange glow against the black sky.

“That’s something people have to see to understand how beautiful it really is,” Leck said.

On Saturday at 9 a.m., there will be a mini pony pull, with the garden tractor parade set to take place at 10 a.m. At 11 a.m. the wild and funny steam engine games will pit competitors against one another.

While those featured events are always a highlight, there will be plenty of other activities ongoing throughout each day. When the noon whistle blows, it will be time for the daily tractor parade, and there will be plenty of demonstrations going on throughout the days including a steam-driven sawmill, steam plowing, and plenty of hit and miss engines sounding off.

Leck said for those who want to get a full picture of everything taking place, a trek up one of the hillsides harboring the event will allow visitors to get a sense of just how big the show is.

“Whether people get up there and just take it all in, watch the tug-o-war between the steam engine and the people, or watch the tractor parade as it encircles the entire property, there’s a lot of neat stuff to view, and it gives people a good idea as to how enormous the show is,” Leck said.

There will be plenty of food available throughout the event, many types of vendors, and a craft and flea market allowing visitors to peruse and shop while they take in the activities of the day.

All antique engine and tractor collectors are welcome to join, but steam engines are only by invitation.

“This show is for anyone who enjoys watching the sheer power and grace of these machines, who likes watching the unique way coal and water work together to create the power to saw a log or to pull heavy machinery,” Leck said. “There’s something special about it that we all share a passion for showcasing.”

The event is located on a farm at 5023 state Route 557, one mile northwest of Charm. It shouldn’t be difficult to find. Simply follow the billowing stacks of steam.

Admission is $5 for age 13 and older while members of the Doughty Valley Steam Club and those 12 and under are free. Gates will open at 7 a.m. each day. There also is primitive camping on the grounds, and alcohol and firearms are prohibited.

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