It is a very rare treat when a steam ride-on lawnmower
is restored to operational
condition. This is the story of the American Coldwell Steam Estate Lawn Mower
restored in 2016, for operational duty.
This Coldwell is owned by the ROUGH AND TUMBLE ENGINEERS HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION
a museum located in the famous Pennsylvania Dutch country on the historic
Lancaster Highway (US Route 30), approximately 45 miles west of Philadelphia. BACKGROUND
The age of steam always captures the imagination of children, young and old.
Steam is a visceral experience
in that we love the look, sound, smell and touch
of steam powered machines. Not sure about taste .... I'm sure Hogwarts would have
cut their grounds at this time with a steam lawnmower.
The age of steam lawnmowers was very short in the scheme of things - perhaps no
more than a decade. Over sixty years after the invention of the lawnmower it was
a foregone conclusion that steam power would be introduced to power lawnmowers.
I mean, every animal had been tried: horse, pony, donkey, camel, and elephant ...
not to mention a human - or two humans.
The first steam lawn mowers were of English and Scottish origin, with the first
patent being taken out in 1893 by Elias Sumner of Lancashire, England. These
entered production and were pedestrian controlled. The great Shanks and Company
made a ride-on version in 1900 - I guess the first UK ride-on steam powered
The North Americans followed suit, with the first steam powered machines
appearing in about 1901
. Manufactured by the Coldwell lawnmower Company
of Newburg, New York,
these were huge machines of 40 inch cutting width.
We are lucky that any steam-powered lawnmowers survive.
We are doubly lucky to see an operational machine on video!
Here's a period photo taken at the Old Del Monte Golf Course
, Monterey, CA -
c1902 - of a Coldwell 'Steamer'. Note the horse-buggy and early automobile influence
buckboard, tiller steering ... TO BE CONTINUED ...