TRACTION  ACTION

The Risstrom Fowler Steam Traction Engine was built in Leeds, England,in 1907.

George Risstrom purchased it 7 years later from the Dwyer family in Murchison. George  used it mainly to for hauling firewood out of  the forest to the Rushworth Railway yard. During the off season it was used for chaff cutting, threshing and house removals. The Lloyd brothers house on the corner of Old Tatura Road and A”Beckett St and Floss Collard’s Home in Stanhope Road were amongst some of those moved. During the mid 30’s the Risstrom Engine was used as motive power for milling fence droppers in the forest. This was continued until the late 1930’swhen a permanent Sawmill was established at the rear of the property in Murchison Road from where the mill still operates.On leaving school, Ron and his brothers Doug, Jack, and Roy all worked with their father George on the wood with the Fowler Steam Traction Engine

This engine was one of about 9 traction Engines working in the area in the early part of the century until the 1930’s. These all had to be registered with the Country Road Board to allow them to be used on the roads When the Engine’s were going between Rushworth and Whroo they would blow their whistles at the Whistle Post on the Whroo Rushworth Road to warn horse teams of their approach, as the Engines had right of way. Only 2 whistle posts remain and the Whroo Rd one is classified by the National Trust.

In those days there were no weight restrictions signs and the Risstrom Steam Traction Engine often accidently crashed through small bridges on local roads, causing many nervous and anxious moments. Particularly nerve racking was crossing the Waranga Western Channel! Ron knows of at least seven bridges the traction Engine broke through.

From the 1930’s and for many years later, a great joy for school children each year was to be taken by Traction Engine out to the Waranga Basin for their annual Sunday School Picnic.

In recent times the Engine was a popular exhibit at the “Moora Muster” puffing away and giving rides to the endless queues of excited passengers.Ron would fire the engine up for the Kindergarten Children who would be taken around the mill riding in the wood grate. The last social function for the traction engine was the Rushworth Remembers Festival in April 1998 where it delighted children and adults alike as it trundled up and down High Street with its whistle blowing.

Ron Risstrom has been offered many thousands more for this engine from overseas buyers. But because of his love of the Engine and his desire to keep it in the town Rushworth, he is willing to sell it to the Museum for only $30,000 which we believe is an extremely generous donation to the town and its Citizens.Keeping this wonderful Engine, which is such a great part of Rushworth’s unique history, in the town, depends on your generosity and desire for your children’s children to view this part of your history.Today there is 3 Rushworth men who have certificates to enable them to operate the Rushworth Wizard , it can be seen taking a part in the Annual Rushworth Easter Parade.

Mr Ron Risstrom interviewed by Lorraine Rule for and on behalf of the Rushworth and District Historical and Preservation Society.  Inc No A 6401 v

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