Cedar Valley Memories will pay tribute to Merrill Johnson

Published 5:54 pm Tuesday, August 1, 2023

OSAGE, Iowa – The 27th annual Cedar Valley Memories Pioneer Power Show – held in Osage whose hallmark is the demonstration and exhibit of early steam engines and pioneer life – will also mark a special tribute to one of its founders this year.

The event, held on Aug. 12-13, will honor Merrill Johnson, one of the founders of Cedar Valley Memories and one of its most active members. Johnson, who died last year, worked closely with the late Ed and Ray Smolik, whose antique steam engines and early farm implements are highlights of the show.

Noted among them is the 1878 Blumentritt steam traction engine, only one of two known in existence and operational. The other is housed in the Smithsonian Institute collection, which was used as a hoist engine during the construction of the Washington Monument. 

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Other machines of note include a 1922 Advance Rumely, an early steam engine; the 1901 Frazee Automobile which was built in Osage and was the first gasoline-powered automobile manufactured in Iowa; and the Reeves 40-140 Cross Compound steam engine, the only one known to be in operation.

The show will open Saturday with the America Legion omelet breakfast from 7-10 a.m. The Char Meitner Band will play from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. Demonstrations on both days include threshing and plowing operations beginning at 10 a.m.; other exhibits and demonstrations of pioneer crafts will also be featured. A tractor pull will be held at noon on Saturday and a kids’ pedal pull will be held at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Other features include refreshments, a silent auction, the Dudley School/Francis House, flea market, and the Chicago Great-Western Depot, which will offer displays, souvenirs, and a complimentary first edition of our program booklet highlighting our collection of antique machines.

Cedar Valley Memories, one of the sites operated by the Mitchell County Historical Society, is located on the Mitchell County Conservation Grounds, about a mile and a half west of Osage off County Road 9.