Tuesday, August 16, 2005
After paying the entrance fee of $5, I turn to the left and enter the first outbuilding. It's a large pole building and inside there are a number of tables set up. Vendors are selling various tools and parts. There's a slightly odd smell in the air, which is unidentifiable to me. Growing up in the 50's and early 60's my generation was past the time when homes were heated with coal burning furnaces, and thus the smell of burning coal is new to me.
The building is fairly dark, and it's quite large. It's difficult to see clearly to the other side, but the space is punctuated by a hissing sound and a low rhythmic beat, soft and strong like a giant heart. I've entered the den of the mythical dragon - the steam engine. Like the dragons of yore, the engines breathe hot steam, their bellies filled with red hot coals.
I make my way deeper into the den and behold, find a huge engine that is powering a giant wheels. It's not apparent to me what the original purpose of this wheel might be, but other things grab my attention. I'm struck by how quiet this leviathan works.....an occasional hiss and the mesmerizing low beat and the piston and armatures set the mechanics in motion. It seems to me that the various moving parts are engaged in quiet, gentle and small motions. Surely this isn't what sets the giant wheel spinning.
As I stand before the beast, prepared to take the photo, I feel as though I've been transported to another time and place. A place where giant machines ruled the earth. Dr. Emmett Brown has somehow taken us "Back to the Future" when the steam engine was king.