FUND DRIVE LAUNCHED FOR STEAM MUSEUM

Layout of historical village

Map shows planned layout of historical village, with space for parking, machinery display, growing grain for threshing and for annual threshing jubilee. The 1966 event was held in August. The map is by Larry Green. Courtesy of Dana C. Jennings, 216 NW 7,

Dana C. Jennings

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216 NW 7 Madison, S.D. 57042

More than 10,000 people paid to watch steam traction engines plow and thresh near Madison, S.D. August, 1965 the third annual Steam Thresher's Jubilee. The Madison chamber of commerce took a new interest in the project, staged by the Eastern South Dakota Threshermens Association.

During the 1965 winter the thresher-men talked about buying land nearer town, building shelter for their $40,000 worth of classic steam, gas and horse farm equipment, and involving the community more in the show. The upshot of their discussions was the transformation of the Threshermen into the Prairie Historical Association. Out of this grew the idea for building a Pioneer Village or Historical Town (the name hasn't been chosen yet) on the west edge of Madison, making it an agricultural and pioneer museum, and using it as a year-around tourist attraction and an annual site for threshing jubilees.

The association got an option on 130 acres lying just west of the city, between US-81 and the north shore of Lake Herman, the state's most popular park second only to Custer State Park. Now, aided by the chamber of commerce and other local groups, the community is busily raising $100,000 with which to buy the land and build the village. The historical association has already pledged to house its collection of steam engines and early gas tractors there. East River Electric Power Cooperative has promised to build its Electrical Museum, showing household and farm equipment used before rural electrification reached the area in 1939, and early electrical appliances and equipment. A soddy will be built.

Also pledged to the site are a pioneer schoolhouse, jail, church and claim shanty. An old-time saloon (non-operating) will be built, as will a turn-of-the-century theater and a steam railroad. Land is reserved for growing the grain crops to be threshed during the threshing jubilee to be held on the grounds each year.

It is planned that admission of $1 per car will admit spectators to all displays except theater and rides.

Although the fund drive is only a few weeks old, nearly a third of the $100,000 has been raised. Local men are raising beards to publicize the fund drive.

'Radicalism is often just an empty stomach shouting for a place at the food trough.'