First Texas Live Steam Meet

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by Leslie P. Burford

From Live Steam Magazine, September 1969

What is believed to be the first organized Live Steam meet in Texas was hosted by L. L. Yates over the past Labor Day weekend in Falfurrias, Texas. Mr. Yates' Bright Star Track is a 7-1/2 inch gauge large oval about 500 feet long with a 200 foot lead track to a turntable and four steaming trakcs in the boiler room of the Bright Star Laundry. Compressed air, steam, treated water, table water, fuel and shop facilities are available in the steaming bays.

There are 45 registered guests from a wide area including Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston as well as Corpus Christi and many of the lower Rio Grande Valley towns. With many of the local town folk dropping in all during the meet, the estimated attendance was about 75.

The 3/4 inch scale Juliet II constructed by Paul DeVerter II of Houston proved to be the conversation piece of the meeting. Bright polished brass, exquisitely constructed in the finest of detail...she was a beauty to behold. She had all the craftsman's workmanship of a fine watch and looked more like a glass case mantle piece than a real operating locomotive. The ladies were most fascinated by her. Not having any 3-1/2 inch gauge track, Juliet II performed in an admirable manner fired with coal while setting on blocks. DeVerter did a superb job in building her.

The technically interested locomotive at the meet was built by John Enders of Austin. She was a fancy, high-stepping Atlantic and asked no quarters. The novelty of Enders' locomotive was that except for the cylinder block, boiler and drivers, all the rest was fabricated by welding with a limited amount of machining. This included the valve gear, side rods and trailing truck frame. She is a good performer.

Equally as authentic was an 0-4-0 switcher brought by Ces Beck from San Antonio. She was fired by butane and was as saucy as any locomotive on the track.

The real performer was host Yates' Pacific. She is oil fired (one of the few that really works!), smooth in operation and handled much like her larger sisters from which she was modeled. She was a clean-cut, lean locomotive and reminded one of the MKT Pacifics that hauled the crack Texas Special in its heyday. During the three-hour trial run the day before the meet, not one adjustment was made in the fuel oil feed valve, and only occasional water was pumped into the boiler by the steam-driven boiler feed pump. The pop valves lifted a few times as she made numerous turns around the track.

L. L. Yates and Manager Oscar Pena of the Bright Star Laundry - as well as the towns people of Falfurrias - were gracious hosts and the First Texas Meet will long be remembered.

See also Southwestern Live Steamers.

See Also

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