Steam-Powered Cars Gather in West Virginia, Predictably Draw a Crowd

A steam car is now considered a quaint antique, that’s more trouble than it’s worth. With all this, not few are those who will take the troubles that come with being an owner of such a vehicle in exchange for a short ride every once in a while.
Stanley steam car owners show up on tour in West Virginia 9 photos
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A group of such owners is now stopping for a full week in Parkersburg, West Virginia, and the occasion makes for a must-see for all car aficionados, and not only. NBC affiliate WTAP was at the scene, where several gorgeous and well-kept steamers were drawing quite a crowd.

You can see a video at the bottom of the page. One steam-powered car owner, Bowder Kirkpatrick, says these tours of the U.S. are a brilliant occasion for himself and others like him to connect and, together, show the world the beauty of steam cars. Oftentimes, they can be a pain in the you-know-what, but the rewards are bigger than the obstacles they come across.

“We’re from all over the country. There’s actually some people here from Australia. They don’t have a car but they’re here. They enjoy the hobby and come in once in a while to an event. There’s a lot of people in New England. We’re from Ohio, right now. I transferred to Cincinnati a few years ago,
” Kirkpatrick explains.

We love this area. The roads we’ve been on, the country we’ve seen her in West Virginia and Ohio. Very beautiful, I’ve never been in this area of the country. And we’re very happy to be here. We’ve been really well received everywhere we go and we’re having a great week,” he adds.

Kirkpatrick may sound like he’s doing it for fun, but a deep love for steamers has been in the family for generations. According to Hemmings, the Kirkpatricks are the first family in Bennington, Vermont, to own steam-powered cars. They became family heirlooms and were regularly driven by all members of the family. At the time of the 2008 report, the Kirkpatricks owned a 1902 Stanley Spindle-Seat Runabout and a 1909 Stanley E2.

Stanleys – and steam-powered cars in general – are notoriously difficult to maintain. “Standing joke with the Stanelys is that they’re maintenance free, but they’re not,” owner Alan Wolf tells WTAP. “They’re somewhat of a challenge to own, but they’re fun to drive."

After WWII, few steamers were left. Their popularity was already on the decline, so after the war, whatever items were still available were snapped up by collectors and hobbyists. Every once in a while, they surface at events of this type, so if you’re in the area, it would be a shame to miss this one.


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