Meridian Star

Local News

November 1, 2008

Explore Meridian’s ‘steamy’ past

Today you and your family can witness real steam engines — and rich history of a Meridian of yesteryear — operating at the Soulé Live Steam Festival in downtown Meridian.

This is the sixth year for the festival, and the museum has new additions to share. One of those is the Watts-Campbell Corliss steam engine. Built in 1905, this machine was just recently added and is fully operational and ready for today's event. The engine will operate in the steam demonstration room, which is also making its debut this year.

"The engine was offered to the Smithsonian," said Greg Hatcher of the Soulé museum. "Turns out they already had one, so it went to Walter Clemons who is a retired professor from Auburn, and he had this in his collection for many years. He decided to move, and didn't want to take his collection with him, and after looking at many places, decided to bring it here."

A few big hits that will return again this year: the blacksmith demonstrations, that will be executed by Benny Crevitt; broom-making demonstrations by Linda Crevitt; and demonstrations of the pottery wheel by Bebe Gianakos and Winki Allen.

Hatcher that he believes festivals like this that are full of history and are vital to the community.

"It's educational," he said. "We should never forget where we come from ... especially in our industry. Within a few generations you forget how things are done; we don't need to forget that."

Hatcher also said for some of the people involved with the festival, this can surpass being a hobby.

"Blacksmithing can become a retirement career," he said. "It becomes a hobby when you're young, and then when you get older and want to slow down and retire, you can actually do this as a living."

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