History of the Illinois Live Steamers
January 1967 - December 1978
This record of the Illinois Live Steamers is being written mostly from the monthly club minutes and partly from my memory. The minutes are accurate but some of the early ones are lacking in details. My memory is not accurate so I beg your indulgence in any errors I have made.
I have included lists of members that attended the first meeting, charter members, nominating committees and all elected officers to date. The records of the various motions, who made and seconded, and the vote on them, are complete in the minutes but are too numerous to list in this record.
At the risk of slighting or overlooking someone I have refrained from naming names of those who did the work, supplied the material, tools, etc. and made donations. Some members gave of their organizational ability, some of their technical knowledge, some of their physical strength, some of their financial ability and some their moral support. They were all necessary for the success of the club and we thank all of them.
The treasury reports at the end of each year reflect the last report in the November minutes. They include all funds, special accounts and cash on hand.
- Bud Novy
The Illinois Live Steamers had their origin at a meeting at Matt Fairlie's home in January 1967. Matt for years had held a one day "Winter Workshop" at his home to gather together interested live steamers. These consisted of Matt's friends, the Chicago Society of Model Engineers and the members of the Addison Valley club. The C.S.M.E. has been organized as a model engineering club since 1913 and the Addison Valley is an informal group of model railroaders that has been meeting at my home since 1946. Matt suggested we should organize as a formal club and build tracks to operate our equipment, At this time the only big track was a 3/4" one in Lafayette, Indiana, although there were a number of small private tracks in yards, Matt had a 3/4" elevated track, Doc Youngdahl had a 3/4" ground track and I had a 1" ground track, plus a few more scattered around. The first meeting was held at Matt's in January 1967 and was attended by 30 members of the 41 that had showed an interest. This was an organizational meeting and Matt was appointed president, Doc Youngdahl secretary and Bill Holt treasurer until we could hold an election of officers. In February the name "Northern Illinois Live Steamers" was adopted by a vote of the members and dues were set at $3.00 per month with the date we would start collecting left open. Mort Shine had offered the use of a piece of property his family owned for the payment of taxes but we found this property was subject to flooding. John Thompson offered the use of his family farm property near Monee but it was tied up in litigation due to a death. At this time we all chipped in a $2.00 initiation to have some money for postage, etc. At the meeting in April it was voted on to make the dues $2.00 per month effective with that meeting. The initiation fee was set at $5.00, In June our first slate of officers was elected, We adopted as a temporary measure the New Jersey Live Steamers constitution almost verbatim until we could write and approve our own. A constitution was necessary to get our state charter. Walt Rees started the paper work necessary to incorporate the club in Illinois, We had under consideration the following pieces of property for the club: Mort Shine's property, in spite of the flooding; possible rental of Sanitary District land; Cantigny; 4 acres owned by Jack Lineberry; plus a few more. Mort Shine undertook to search for farm land we could rent. Our charter from the State of Illinois as a not for profit organization came through in August and all members at that time are charter members. There was no treasurer's report at the end of 1967.
Means to raise money to buy property was under discussion and the board of directors proposed to sell shares to the members for $100.00 each. Gee Realty Company in Orland Park was contacted by Matt Fairlie and Bruce Achor and the ball started rolling on buying our own property. A special meeting of the members that had agreed to buy shares was held in March. Tabulation at this time showed $7,500.00 pledged. Matt and his committee had found in April, through realtor Gee, the present property where we are located, and on investigation it was found suitable by the member-ship. Some changes in the constitution were made to enable us to buy it. In April initiation fees were raised to $25.00. In May we purchased the property with a total of $8,980.00 shares and a mortgage with the Orland Park bank for $13,000.00 at 6 1/2% interest. The refrigerator, kitchen utensils, International Harvester tractor and various implements to fit it were included. We raised our monthly dues to $5.00. In June we took possesion of our 7 1/3 acre apple orchard. It was immediately decided we would need a well and septic system, which were installed in the spring of 1969. In July plotting of the grounds was completed to the north end of the pro-posed tracks. We set up a work schedule for week ends and only 20 members signed up. Of these about 12 showed up to.work. Some things remain the same always. In August the property lines were surveyed by the Orland Park Township surveyor and our boundaries staked out. Our neighbor to the east had two of his power poles on our property and had disputed the boundaries. They were moved later in the year. We levied an assessment of $40.00 to pay for the well and septic system. This is the only assessment we have ever levied. Track planning started in earnest in the fall and we also started a drive for new members. In October we purchased 15,000' of l" and 3/4" rail to our own design at .05 1/2 per ft. We also bought 5,000' of 1 1/2" rail at .12 1/2. Some of the rail was sold to members at .01 over our cost per foot. Our initiation at this time was raised to $65.00. The track committee had come up with a plan that was satisfactory to the majority and work started in earnest on the grading. We planted our honeysuckle bushes on the west sid·e and some on the east. A tabulation of the members loco-motives, running and under construction, showed 22 -3/4", 17 -l", and 14 -1 1/2". November showed $5,187.00 in our treasury.
A new class of membership was approved in January. They will be associate members and will pay an initiation fee of $10.00 and regular monthly dues. They will have all benefits but no voice or vote. We now had had about 5,000 assorted ties and the frogs for the switches. The rail was delivered and we received the Oliver tractor on loan in March, The septic tank was installed in April and work was progressing on the rest of the plumbing. We bought the Mott's mower and put it in operation. In June the turn-table was installed. We also obtained the 1 x 6 cypress boards for the 3/4" track. Work on the 3/4" track and excavating and grading were moving right along. In September the north end of the 3/4" track was completed and we ran our first locomotive at the club. It was only about 500' or 600' out and back but it was a red letter day. The planting of the bushes on the east side was completed and we poured the concrete floor in the building. We wound up November with about 900' of 3/4" track completed and $3,404.00 in the treasury.
Much home work was done on the 1 1/2" switches, track, etc. during the winter. In April our initiation was raised to $150.00. The ground was not ready to work so we concentrated on the building, dry wall, electric, plumbing, etc. June showed some ballast spread, l" and 1 1/2" track down and work continuing on the 3/4" track. We obtained our first N.I.L.S. metal badges. We were approached by Austin Barr with a request to hold the 1975 B.L.S. meet at our track. The 1 1/2" circle was completed in July. In August we voted tenta-tively to accept the 1975 B.L.S. meet. We also did the impossible and borrowed a massive earth mover and a big cat tractor. All it cost us was fuel and an operator's wages. We moved over 600 yards of dirt in one week end. The 1" circle was completed and the first run was made on it. Labor Day was a run and picnic day and it was sure nice not to work. The building was painted in October. In order to reduce our mortgage $2,450.00 in additional shares were sold to the members. Bill Dundas, who is not a member, was working through his various connections to get the state boiler code amended to exclude our hobby boilers. In November we ordered the complete order of slightly larger 1 1/2" rail. At this time we had laid 1,145' of 3/4" rail, 500' of l" and 1,100' of 1 1/2". The treasury was $6,278.00.
In January 5,000 -l" ties and 1,000 -1 1/2" were cut and the second set of plumbing fixtures were obtained for the women's wash room. A boiler safety committee was appointed, February saw delivery of 5,170' of 1 1/2" rail from the manufacturer. Tie cutting continued, We had all ties cut to date, with the exception of a few of the early ones, treated at Gee Lumber Company. A set of boiler regulations were formulated and approved by Bill Dundas who will present them to the state boiler board. We held our March meeting at the property. The building was warm but the mud was terrible. At the suggestion of Bill Dundus we changed our name from the "Northern Illinois Live Steamers" to the "Illinois Live Steamers". This was done because many down state legislators might consider us a Chicago organization rather than state wide, April saw work again in progress on the track and the wash rooms were finished. Our constitution was amended to change the term of office to 2 years. Our boiler test requirements went in effect in May. The 111 circle that was laid with stringers under the ties was completely relaid as it did not weather the winter. We ran 4 -111 engines, 1 -1 1/2" and 1 -3/4" on our partly completed tracks on Memorial Day. In June the bill to exclude our boilers successfully passed the house and congress and now awaits the governor's signature. We had another fun day on July 4th. A survey of locomotives running or building in August showed a considerable drop in 3/4" and a gain in l" and 1 1/2" --10 -3/4" engines, 20 -111 and 15 -1 1/2". Our boiler exclusion rule was made into law by the governor's signature. Any boiler used in a hobby only, measuring less than 12" inside diameter and 1 1/2 sq. ft. of grate area is now excluded from the state boiler codes. Our thanks to Bill Dundas on this. Bill also refused our offer of paying his expenses and picked up the tab himself. Labor Day weekend saw 9 -l" and 1 -1 1/2" engines running. None of the tracks were complete but they all had long runs. Track sections are being fabricated in member's basements and our goal is to be 100% operational by 1973. In October we had 2,300' of 1 1/2", 1,600' of 1" track, and the 3/4" was completed except to cut the switches in. We ran the first complete loop on the 3/4" track. A red letter day. The drill press was donated to the club, We wound up the year with $3,983.00, Our initiation was raised to $200.00.
The steel for the swinging 3/4" switches was all delivered. Track fabrication and tie sawing continued through February. In March work started on the east side 111 bridges. The basement track gang made 750' of track in 4 weeks. In April our initiation was raised to $225.00. We received a $5,000.00 donation toward building an engine house. In May we bought our 9" lathe for $100.00 and some of the members put it in first class shape. The hand driven, or should I say hand pulled, pile driver was made and pile driving started on the big bridge over Schaub's Gulch at the July meeting. It was a good thing we had some young men. In September we bought the rough sawed lumber for the 3/4" cat-walk from the LaPorte club. The 1" water tank was delivered on loan from one of our members. Coal is now hard to get and it was voted to obtain 4 or 5 ton of Pochahontas coal for the use of the members. Donations for the engine house now totaled $7,120.00 and it was voted to buy and erect a 40' x 20' metal building. Our initiation is now $350.00. The 5 ton of coal was delivered in October. It cost $250.00. Additional donations brought the engine house total to $9,400.00. A contractor was hired and work started on it. There is sufficient money to pay for the erected building, concrete floor, concrete apron, etc. The big bridge over Schaub's Gulch is now complete and the second 1" trestle was started. Work started on the short 3/4" loop at the south end. The new engine house was completed by the contractor in November. Work is progressing on the 3/4" cat-walk. 800' of 1" track, 11 switches and 3 bridges were completed. The year end showed a total of $4,512.00 in the treasury.
Due to increased taxes and the inflation spiral dues were raised to $6.00 in January. The first meeting held at the track was in March and as usual the mud was with us. It was decided to buy the remaining required 1 1/2" ties. They will cost between 10 to 12 cents each. The bench in the engine house was donated. In April our initiation was increased to $400.00. The locomotive bell was donated to us by one of our affiliate members. It rained 26 out of 31 days in May and we fell behind on track work. We finally closed the gap in the north embankment in June and we were now all set to complete all track laying. The all gauge unloading track to the turntable was completed. The 1" track and one complete loop of 1 1/2" were finished in July and we made the first complete circuit of both on July 15th. We received a $1,000.00 donation toward improving our road. The north embankment was seeded in September. A set of running rules was formulated in October and these rules are listed in our present by-laws. The third Sunday of the month was declared run day and we voted for 2 meets a year in June and August. November saw our initiation at a high of $425.00 and we finished the year with $5,184.00 in the treasury.
January saw our initiation reduced to $250.00. The previous high fee probably scared away many perspective members. The associate initiation was increased to $25.00. All the required treated ties were delivered in February. In March we received another $1,000.00 donation to the road fund. The members voted on a design for the new I.L.S. badges. In May work started on the rain water system for the locomotives. We held our first meet in June and it was well attended but we had a shortage of workers. The August meet saw only 3 visiting 1 1/2" engines, no 3/4" or 1" visitors. We ran our own engines to create some activity. In September painting of the 3/4" track was completed. This track needs much repair and alignment. No work has been done on installing the 3/4" switches. All tracks required much ballasting and alignment. The 1" car storage shed was completed and the second inside 1 1/2" main was completed in October. A review of the upcoming 1975 B.L.S. meet showed we would have an investment of $2,000.00 to $3,000.00. This figure was revised upward to $3,600.00 in November and after much discussion it was agreed we could not take this gamble. It was with regret we cancelled the 1975 B.L.S. meet. We finished the year with $6,088.00 in the treasury.
In January the lights were installed in the engine house and quite a bit of work was done on the rain water system. The member that installed it had a lot of help from his non-member friends and donated the materials. The March meeting was not held at the property this year. The mud is too deep in March. We got our I.L.S. metal badges. We paid off our mortgage with the Orland Park Bank in April and will start repaying member's notes next. We again had a very wet spring that delayed track maintenance. We bought the pump for the cistern in May. The concrete apron for the engine house was poured in June. The June meet had only 4 visiting engines and was not too well attended. Stone was spread on the circular drive at the engine house in August. The August meet is better attended than the June one. We had 6 visiting engines. In September we started the pyramid system of paying off the notes. The $1,000.00 notes were reduced to $800.00. The new constitution and by-laws were distributed to the members for their review before we vote on them. The treasury report in November was $5,626.00.
In February all notes were reduced to $600.00 or less and the new constitution was adopted. In March the new by-laws were voted in. The door at the north end of the engine house was installed in April. The transfer table and plywood lining were installed and the metal storage building was moved to its present location. In June we revised our by-laws. Initiation was reduced to $50,00 and each member has one share in the club for each dollar credited to him, Donations, labor or material furnished is not included, We do not all have an equal equity, Associate members now will pay an extra $2.00 per month dues plus $1.00 additional at the end of their year, when they will become regular members. We purchased 2 more picnic table sets. We voted to hold one meet only this year, in August. The August meet was the most successful to date. It was very well attended. There were 6 -1 1/2" engines, 10 -1" and 3 -3/4". In September our notes were all reduced to $400.00 or less. The November treasurer's report is $5,651.00.
In February work was started on the new 1 1/2" unloading track. March saw the delivery of the donated air compressor and the completion of the engine house interior walls. Work was going on getting all tracks back in operation after the winter ravishes. We got our donated riding mower in operation and sharpened the Mott's mower in April. The 1 1/2" unloading track was re-designed and now crosses the mains directly to the turn-table. Painting started on the building in May, the turntable was leveled and the steaming bays adjusted to it. Again there was no meet in June, It had been previously voted to hold only one meet a year. A questionnaire on various club activities was sent to all members to help the newly elected officers form their decisions. A suggestion and comment box was installed. July saw all the notes paid off to the $200,00 level, Painting of the building was completed and work started on the interior painting, The August meet was very successful although we were rained out in the mornings. On Saturday we had 8 -1 1/2" engines, 7 -l" and 3 -3 1/2" and on Sunday 4 -1 1/2" engines 4 -1" and 3 -3 1/2", The November records show $7,562.00 in the treasury.
1978 was probably our most active year as far as using the club facilities and running engines goes. The track maintenance is a manageable job now that the track is bedding down. January saw a few minor dimensional changes in our track and wheel standards. A coupler height standard was also added. In February a new membership drive was started. The printed booklet of our constitution, by-laws and standards was distributed in March. Sometime in March or April we had our first taste of vandalism. Some switches were damaged and some 1" track at the north end ripped up. It was decided to fence the property and work was started. The track committee decided in May that the 3/4" elevated track was no longer safe and closed it to all users, All locks on the buildings, gate, etc. were changed to keyed-alike pad locks. Keys were distributed in June. The new fence is about half the length of the property on the east and west sides. The south fence is still serviceable and will not be replaced. A survey and vote of the members showed a majority in favor of dismantling the 3/4" track and building a shorter track at the south end. A plea for someone to head up and take over this job brought no volunteers. The August meet was our most successful one. It was better organized than our previous meets. The dinner, our first one at a meet, was very well attended. We had 15 -1" and 9 -1 1/2" engines running. We had guests from 11 states and 6 clubs in attendance. All notes of the members that have moved and become affiliates or have resigned from the club were paid off in full. We had previously paid the heirs of those that had died while holding notes. All unpaid notes of $200.00 and $100,00 are now held by regular active members. Painting of the washrooms was completed before the meet, New blades were put in the Mott's mower, In October a committee of the present and past presidents that are still regular members was appointed to come up with an orderly procedure to use if it ever became necessary to move or disband the club (heaven forbid). Affiliate dues were raised to $5.00 per year effective January 1979. Work on the tracks and the swinging engine door, for the 1 1/2" engines, in the engine house progressed rapidly and these tracks should be usable next spring. Eighteen trees were planted in November and pine seedlings were planted across the south end and also along the east side of the road. The treasury showed $7,732.00
Members attending the first meeting, January 1967
Charter Members August 1967