Perhaps it was an ad just like this one that got the Indiana Live Steamers (ILS) started way back in 1957. Maybe, it was something else. We will explain it all on this page. So, sit back, relax and take a trip through history and learn a little bit more about the Indiana Live Steamers.
1957 - 1967
Like most groups, the ILS started off with just a handful of members. Many of the original members were drawn to the club via involvement with the Pioneer Engineers of Rushville, Indiana. The thought was that the ILS could be a group focused on building smaller scale steam traction and trains that were much easier to transport and display. By the early 1960s, the group was meeting at various members' homes and shops. A very early meeting hosted by Carl Goodknight was held in his shop and involved a pitch-in dinner and show and tell. Dave Jones and Carl had started building a 3" scale Pacific and they were more than happy to show off patterns and castings that would be part of the engine. Other people brought their traction and stationary models. Of particular interest to many members was a small "hit and miss" engine that one could find popping along at meets.
It was also at that meet that many members met Harold Ekstam. He brought railroad related movies to entertain the group.
1968 - 1977
Davis Sullivan allowed the group to build an elevated track on his property during this time frame. This track was 4 3/4" gauge and was designed with the idea that the club would build 1" scale trains. So far, very little is available about the history of this time period. If you have any additional information, would you please share it?
1978 - 1987
During the 1982 - 1983 time frame, the club moved its operation to the Mt. Nebo location, near Martinsville, Indiana. It was located off of Jensen Road and was in a rather heavily wooded area. The track property was leased from club members, Jim and Wanda Petty. This location was a forested area with many changes in elevation and nice shade. The trade-off was that summer time air flow was greatly reduced making for some very muggy days.
For those who may remember the track, either as a member or a visitor, the ILS has included a
Mt. Nebo Memories page for your enjoyment.
Many times, the meet days ended with the group stopping by Poe's Cafeteria in Martinsville. The group would eat and listen to stories from the best narrator in the group, Harold 'The Czar' Ekstam.
Other members instrumental in the club at the time included:
Sadly, it was during this period when the Indiana Live Steamers would lose A great friend to the organization. Ms. Bert Behren passed away. As a gesture of kindness to the club, she left the club three acres next to the track at Mt. Nebo. The club continued at Mt. Nebo for a while after this great gift.
Attempts were made to renew the lease with the Petty's and expand into those three acres. Unfortunately, no deal was able to be made and the members knew that they would have to think about moving and the members felt like it was time to start and to find a new home.
The a few members had a small loop of track in the Johnson County Park that had been there for several years. It was only used one weekend a year, during the Heartnut Festival. This track area was developed until it had 1000 feet and a simple unloading area. Dave Kirch and John Herman had made contacts with The Park Board and broached the Idea of moving the ILS track to the Park. Ground work was started, track panels were built and we were able to give rides to the public at the 1998 Heart Nut Festival.
1998 - 2007
Jeff Mitchell was President and Pete Pedigo was Vice President during this time frame. Jeff and Pete put on a presentation at a Park Board meeting in an attempt to find a permanent home for the Indiana Live Steamers. The Park Board was enthusiastic and offered us a long term lease along with incentives to move to the Johnson County Park. The Johnson County Park provided space for our club on part of a decommissioned military base, Camp Atterbury that they had been granted the use of. Click Here to see a photograph of our current track location taken almost 60 years prior our move to the park. We began to develop our new permanent track plan in three phases. Phase 1
In 2001, the golden spike ceremony was held signaling the completion of Phase I at Johnson County Park. You can view a photograph of the spike ceremony.
Page last updated 11/21/07