Steam powered car enthusiasts make pit stop in downtown Parkersburg

Published: Sep. 18, 2019 at 6:34 PM EDT
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You may not see very many steam powered cars on the road these days, but some hobbyists have been touring the country in them for decades. Including a group of about 30 who are visiting the Mid-Ohio Valley this week.

Steam powered cars were outclassed by gas powered vehicles early on in automotive history, but many hobbyists around the country still own and operate steam powered automobiles.

Most steam powered cars have a limited range and frequently have to stop to refill their water tanks. But that doesn’t stop enthusiasts from pulling the car from hundreds of miles away.

“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,” said Bowden Kirkpatrick, a steam powered car owner.

According to several steam powered car owners, the vehicles can be difficult to maintain.

“Standing joke with the Stanelys is that they’re maintenance free, but they’re not. Normally when I take my Stanley out, I come back with a checklist because some little something to do, a leak or whatever. They’re somewhat of a challenge to own, but they’re fun to drive,” said Alan Woolf, a Stanley brand steam powered car owner.

Hobbyists have had plenty of driving to do as they tour the Mid-Ohio Valley.

“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,” said Kirkpatrick.