Circa 1913 20 HP Stickney Gas Engine
Charlie Inman's circa-1913 20 HP Stickney as it looked the day it was removed from its 49 year slumber in Montana's Milk River.
Circa-1913 20 HP Stickney gas engine
Manufacturer: Charles A. Stickney Co., St. Paul, Minn.
Year: Circa 1913*
Horsepower: 20 at 225 RPM
Serial number: 23943
Ignition: Hit-and-miss, make and-break ignitor
Weight: 8,000 pounds
Flywheels: 70 inch diameter, 1,700 pound each
*The exact year this engine was made is uncertain. Although Stickney quit making engines in 1913, it is believed that until 1920 the company continued putting engines together from leftover inventory, stamping the serial number when the engine was sold. This engine is believed to have sold in 1916.
Every now and then, an engine comes along that stops the entire old-iron community in its tracks. Charlie Inman's circa 1913 20 HP Stickney is one of those engines.
Charlie Inman seems almost embarrassed when asked to talk about the remarkable 20 HP Stickney he fished out of Montana's Milk River. Ever since he got it running last year, the Havre, Mont., resident has become something of a celebrity in the old-iron community.
One of three 20 HP Stickneys known to exist, the history of Charlie's engine can be traced back to 1937. That was the year construction started on the Fresno Dam, 14 miles west of Havre in north central Montana.
In 1937, the Stickney was just an old engine, a contractor's beast of burden running a pump or a light plant, just one part of a contingent of machinery employed to dam the Milk River.
Charlie's dad, Bert, was a mechanic attached to the dam project, and Charlie remembers him saying the Stickney ran almost constantly. 'Dad used to say that on a clear night you could hear that thing running, even though it was 2 miles away.'
When the dam was completed in 1939, the construction crews packed up and moved on, leaving the Stickney behind as junk. Charlie's neighbor appropriated the abandoned engine, hauling it a mile from the old dam workshops to his property on the Milk River. There, he set it up on the river bank running a pump to irrigate his crops. The years rolled by, and the Stickney stayed at its post.
In 1951, the Milk River flooded, the river bank gave way, and the Stickney rolled into the river. 'When it fell in, they tried to pull it out,' Charlie recalls. 'But back in those days, there weren't any machines to pull it out. I used to go down and sit on the river bank when I was a kid and dream of hearing it run.'
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