The History of the Southwestern Live Steamers


As written in the 1990 SWLS Roster…

On January 15, 1972, Leslie Burford hosted a meeting for people interested in forming an organization to promote interest in live steam railroading.  This was the first of two organizational meetings with the second held on January 29th.  The first meeting was attended by 14 live steamers and 3 others by proxy.

Les served as Temporary Chairman and Austin Barr as Secretary.  The name for the club was agreed and the club’s purpose was to promote steam power of any kind.  Allen Guiberson was named Chairman of a Bylaws Committee and Paul DeVerter agreed to handle the incorporation of the club.

At the second meeting, Les Burford continued as Temporary Chairman and Leon Lindner served as Secretary.  The group agreed to DeVerter’s proposed “Articles of Incorporation” and Guiberson’s committee suggested adoption of an amended version of the Mid-South Live Steamers’ Bylaws.  The motion carried.

The group elected the club’s first slate of Officers and Directors:

  • President: Allen Guiberson
  • Vice President: Paul DeVerter
  • Secretary-Tresurer: Leon Lindner
  • Directors: Harold Timm, Paul Torn, L.L. Yates, Austin Barr, Les Burford

Plans were also made for committees to handle issues concerning Boilers, Facilities, Safety and Publications.  Regular monthly meetings were scheduled for the second Sunday of each month.

As the 1990 Roster illustrates, the club has enjoyed tremendous growth in the ensuing 18 years and has plainly succeeded in its purpose of promoting live steam.

Prior to the formation of the club, scale railroaders abounded in Texas with tracks around their homes utilizing several different gauges.  Some of these were Harold Timm of Dallas, Ces Beck of San Antonio, John Enders of Austin, Cliff Pettis of Houston, Vernon Greschel of Houston, Allen Guiberson and Lou Conklin of Dallas.  Tracks were being planned by Henry Blossom of Wimberley and Roy Pickard of Priddy.

None had tracks large enough or knew enough other steamers to hold a meet until L.L. Yates of Falfurrias asked Live Steam Magazine to publish a notice of the FIRST TEXAS MEET AUG. 31 AND SEPT. 1, 1969.  The meet was held on his 500′ loop next to the dry cleaning plant that he managed.  The turntable was inside the big boiler room of the plant.  Engines were unloaded on one side of the building onto the turntable, then to the tracks on the other side of the building.  L.L. Yates, John Enders and Ces Beck had steam engines to run and Paul DeVerter showed his 3/4 inch Juliet II.

Attendance at this first Texas meet was 45 registered guests and the event was reported in LIVE STEAM’s September 1969 issue by Les Burford.  The following year, Yates held his second Labor Day meet.  He sent invitations to many and the meet was attended by 47 registered guests.  Running were five locomotives belonging to Enders, Beck, Yates, Greschel and an Allen Guiberson engine brought by Paul Torn.  Others attending were Clarence and Paul King, Henry Blossom, Burford, DeVerter, and Joe Dale Morris.  This meet was also reported in a LIVE STEAM article by Clarence King in the January, 1971 issue.

His third and final meet was held on Labor Day weekend, 1971.  It was attended by many of the same people and was also reported by LIVE STEAM in the April, 1972 issue.  L.L. Yates was without a doubt the “grandfather” of the Southwestern Live Steamers.  But the true father was Les Burford.

Les used the names and addresses from those Labor Day meets, plus names from B.L.S officer, Austin Barr, and others he knew in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area to engender interest in forming the Southwestern Live Steamers, Inc.

Past Presidents

  • 1972 Allen Guiberson
  • 1973-74 Terry McGrath
  • 1975 Ces Beck
  • 1976 Ed Landrum
  • 1977 George Berg
  • 1978 Clarence King
  • 1979 Harold Timm
  • 1980-81 Clarence King
  • 1982-83 Ed Leatherwood
  • 1984-86 Jake DeVries
  • 1987-88 Tom Stamey
  • 1989-90 George Maddox
  • 1991-92 Jack Haskins
  • 1993-94 Lee Balkum
  • 1995-96 Gerry Stuteville
  • 1997-98 Henry Todaro
  • 1999-00 Carroll Enders
  • 2001-02 Harvey Mattison
  • 2003-04 Philip Bell
  • 2005-06 Stephen Balkum
  • 2007-08 John Oglesby
  • 2009-10 Darren McNeely
  • 2011-12 Terry McGrath
  • 2013-14 Jerry Schoenberg
  • 2015-16 Kari Wirth
  • 2017- Bill Childers