Eugene Eckart's Snow Plane

FTLComm - Maple Creek - Friday, April 5, 2002
Albert Eckart told us the story of his two older brothers Melvin and Eugene who had each built snow planes and how Eugene's had burned. At the time we posted the story we were unable to get a hold of a picture of either machines.

Yesterday we got a letter from Melvin's son Harvey and with it this picture. Harvey notes that the picture bears the date July 16, 1938 but since that is obviously snow on the ground it is likely that some time during the winter of 1937 - 38 the fire that damage the snow plane took place.

Both Melvin and Eugene Eckart were talented welders and metal fabricators, Melvin concentrated on farming until his death a few years ago and was very well know in the South western part of the province as a member of the Maple Creek Old Time fiddlers. I first met Melvin in the summer of 1967 when he was busily building an automated bail picking machine which he and Harvey had fabricated in their shop on the farm. I was equally impressed with the dune buggies that had fabricated.

Eugene developed a welding business in Maple Creek that was more of a factory in which municipal road building machines were constructed and repaired. This ambitious business with its large lathes was able to turn out impressive equipment and with a skilled staff and Eugene's guidance Eckart welding was a major business in Maple Creek.

Neither he nor Melvin were very old when they put together their snow planes and in the midst of the dirty thirties there was little money for expensive and hard to obtain products like antifreeze and they used kerosene in the cooling system of their engines. Eugene's machine as Albert pointed out had been out for a run and was parked as the boys went into the house for supper, the kerosene overflowed onto the hot manifold ignited and the machine was consumed. But as Albert pointed out though the body was destroyed Eugene soon had stripped away the damaged body and had the machine running again.