Rogers, Minnesota 55374
Each year as our family plans our vacation trip, my son, Craig and I make sure we are able to attend one or two steam shows along the way.
This past year the first part of our trip took us to the Land of Lincoln. After a seven hour drive we arrived at Davis Junction, Illinois, the home of Hedkes Hickory Oaks Farm. The driveway and grounds are beautifully kept. The campground is in a nice wooded area, quiet and beautiful. After getting settled we took a short walk around the grounds and we came upon a group of engineers that were relaxing and swapping stories after the day's work. I can see engineers are pretty much the same, whether you are in the Land of the Tall Swedes or in Illinois by the big lies they tell each other, but I guess that has to be part of the game. They have a large multi-purpose building where they show movies and slides in the evening, but after a hard day's drive we decided to retire for the night.
After a good night's rest and a big breakfast, we headed out to see the show and the first man we meet flying around the grounds was George Hedke. Between handling the water wagon and organizing activities for the day, he was able to take time out to talk to us. George said he had been crazy about steam engines since he was 1% years old. In school that was all he could think ofengines and threshing machines. After he got out of the Navy his dreams started coming true as he gathered his first steam engines. After twenty years he has a fine collection and they operate a good show with lots of activity. They operate a little different than we do at Rogers. Everything is done at a certain time so you have to check the program so you don't miss anything. At Rogers we thresh all day, also some of the other events go on steady.
A slat stacker Westinghouse hand feed was in use, powered by a 6 HP Westinghouse built in 1867. A 32' wood case slat stacker powered by six horses was also in use. One of the smallest, simplest baler you would ever see was powered by one mule; it was made by International. A tub grinding Dain burr mill powered by horses was a rare sight. Corn shelling was done by a wood Sandwich powered by an International gas engine. Plowing was done with a fourteen bottom John Deere pulled by the 110 HP Case. The saw mill was powered by a 19 HP Port Huron. Another beautiful Port Huron engine was shown by Lester Lindenmier and his wife, Doris, of Cherry, Illinois. Doris is an excellent engineer and the first lady engineer I have ever met. We had a nice visit and Lester was gracious enough to let me take a tour of the grounds with his engine. Ron Pieper from Freeport had a 1922 18 HP Advance. We also had a good bull session both of us being Advance men.
Other tractors were Oil Pulls, Case 22-40 Cross Mount, Case 20 x 40 twin opposed, G. P. John Deere row crop, a Thieman using a Model A Ford engine and rear end, a Case three wheel and a one row Heider tractor was an interesting piece powered by a four cylinder Le Roi.
Threshing machines were well represented; a 42' Avery Yellow Fellow, a 36' Aultman Taylor, a 32' Case, about a 26' Goodison, a Minneapolis, and a New Russell. All these machines were wood, plus a nice line of metal machines.
The gas engine department was fairly small, but some nice engines were shown. Harry Morphy from Monroe Center was there with engines, and his son had a beautiful Lauson Lawton 6 HP side shaft. Another nice engine was a 2 HP International Famous vertical owned by Fred Emerson. There were many other tractors, steam engines, and models shown, plus a lot of antiques in the main building where the meals were served. At noon as all the steam engine whistles were blown, things ground to a halt for the dinner hour. George Hedke had a nice prayer thanking God for all he has given us and asking his continued blessing on our country and each one of us.
That afternoon it was time to be on our way as we headed south to Springfield and the Lincoln Memorials and then on to the Ozarks. The crops were beautiful the entire length of Illinois. I have never seen finer corn or beans, not like the drought area we have this year. However, as we entered Missouri we ran into a very dry area. Our first big stop was Silver Dollar City. This is the place they still practice the old crafts for all to see; everything from making gun stocks to basket weaving. I believe 27 different crafts were demonstrated. They also had a narrow gauge railroad that took quite a tour through the hills. On our ride, the pipe that the whistle was fastened to broke off and needless to say there went the steam, but they had a backup engine, so after a short delay and a make believe holdup we were on our way. I would say the day we spent at Silver Dollar City was enjoyed by all. The trip through the Ozarks was really enjoyed, the lakes were beautiful as well as the hills.
As we headed north we went through Billings, Missouri and I saw some gas engines by a shop. This was enough to make us stop and turn around and have another look. This is where we met Carl Netzer a fellow 72 years young and a lifetime resident of the area. We had a long talk about engines and tractors. Carl is a member of Branch 16 EDGE and has gas engines and also a 25-50 Keck Gonnerman. They have a lively show every year with people coming from quite an area to participate.
As we bid good-bye and headed north, we again hit the severe drought area all the way to Kansas City or I should say Lexington, which is right east of Kansas City where there is a fine museum. If you are in that area, it is a well worthwhile stop.
Next on to Bonner Springs and the Agriculture Hall of Fame. I will say this was a little disappointing to me. They have a fine building and some nice equipment, but I guess I expected something like Saskatoon or Warp's Pioneer Village. But in all fairness it is new and they are adding all the time.
Our next main stop was to be Cedar Falls, Iowa, but instead we stopped in St. Joseph, Missouri where we toured the Hillyard Chemical Company Plant and also the old Pony Express Museum. They also have a number of fine old homes that are really beautiful.
At Cedar Falls they were busy getting ready for their show that was coming up the following week. We had a good visit with Alfred Lindeman and also Andy Fishels who were busy working on the big Corliss. This has been a big project for the club, moving and installing the Corliss and having a building put over it. They also had a fine bunch of steam engines a 110 Case, a 6 HP Russell and a 40-140 Reeves, also a 4 cylinder Log Hauler, plus many others. They had a lot of engines and tractors both restored and piled up waiting their turn. They had about 20 threshing machines including a little Allis Chalmers that is kind of rare, at least in Minnesota. I believe their show grounds are open daily in the summer and they have a book and souvenir stand that is well stocked.
Well we enjoyed our visit, but it was time to head for home and back to work.