Preserving our Heritage

Each year, the hot first weekend of August draws locals and visitors alike to honor a treasured past of rural heritage.  This weekend marks the 68th Reunion of the Pioneer Engineers Club, or more casually known, the Steam Engine Show.

The “Steam Engine Show” originated by a group known as The Pioneer Engineers Club.  The Pioneer Engineers Club is a local organization that grew out of the ashes of a dying breed of men called the Brotherhood of Thresherman.  The group’s hope is that the tradition of the local threshing ring would not be forgotten, and therefore, demonstrations are held every year on that first weekend of August at their annual reunion.  The reunion also provides agricultural displays of all types, honoring both the past and present of agriculture.

In more recent years, the Pioneer Engineers Club Reunion has found a new home at donated ground deemed “Caldwell Pioneer Acres”.  This property has transformed the annual reunion into a 365-day live museum.  Threshing, plowing, sawmilling, and a working blacksmith shop are among demonstration features available at the site.  Caldwell Pioneer Acres has enabled our county’s youth to visit for Caldwell Heritage Field Day and allowed the Reunion to expand in size and capacity.

The Rush County Community Foundation is a proud partner of the Pioneer Engineers Club.  In 2009, the Foundation assisted the Club by providing grant funds to move the Kennedy Covered Bridge to Caldwell Pioneer Acres.  In addition, the family of Tobi Lynn Coon established the T.L.C. to Earth Fund to provide ongoing financial support to the Tobi Land Playground at Caldwell Acres.  We’re also proud to sponsor Rush County Soil and Water Conservation’s Caldwell Heritage Field Day for the second year.  The Foundation values the efforts of the Pioneer Engineers Club and all of the volunteers that make the preservation of such a meaningful past possible for our community.

Though the presentation is quite different, the Rush County Community Foundation’s concept is very similar to that of the Pioneer Engineers Club:  we both work to honor our past, preserve cherished aspects of our great community, and educate our community of our efforts in order to prolong and expand our good work.

As you venture out to Caldwell Acres this weekend, take a moment to step back and take in the sights, sounds, and smell of our past in the present.  As you observe, consider how the Rush County Community Foundation’s work both with the Pioneer Engineers Club and our community correspond.  By building upon our past, we’re able to create more for tomorrow.

If you’re interested in learning more about how the Foundation is building a foundation for tomorrow, contact us!  Information is available on our website, or stop by our office at 117 N Main St.

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