— ELDON, Iowa - This southern Iowa city best known as the setting of a 1930s painting was thrown back into the past Tuesday morning when a dozen steam-powered cars chugged into town.
The Stanley Steamers arrived in Eldon under power of heated water, rather than internal combustion. And they didn't move especially fast.
Al Moody, of Libertyville, Ill., said his car made in 1914 can go 60 mph, but it's not safe to drive that fast.
"We normally drive at 35 to 40 mph,” he said.
The Steamers are traveling this week on the Southeast Iowa Steam Car Tour, coordinated by Nancy Roach, also of Libertyville. The cars and their owners hail from throughout the Midwest, Northeast and as far away as Florida and Washington.
The Stanley Steamer, invented by Francis and Freeland Stanley, was first produced in Newton, Mass., shortly after the turn of the 20th century. The cars needed a steady supply of water - about a gallon every couple of miles for the non-condensing variety, and a gallon every 10 miles for later models.
Holly Berg, administrator of the American Gothic House Center, said she sees a few car tours, but this is the first time she's seen a convoy of Stanley Steamers. The house is the backdrop of the iconic "American Gothic," painted by Grant Wood in 1930, six years after the last Stanley Steamer was produced.
Details for this story were provided by the Ottumwa, Iowa, Courier.