Steam Threshing Days Beldenville Wisconsin

Content Tools

1511 Iglehart Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota 55104

The Beldenville, Wisconsin Steam Engine Days, an annual event, was held September 14th and 15th, 1974 on the Ed Huppert farm which is a short distance off Highway 35 about halfway between River Falls and Elsworth.

The show site is in a beautiful valley, covered with pasture grass with low hills sprinkled with burr-oak trees and an occasional basswood found along a ravine that leads the visitor to the refreshment stand, and farther on, the machine shed where Ed Huppert stores his tractors and other machinery that he Uses to make up the show. Mr. Huppert is a persevering collector of machinery that was used in the past, and keeps adding to his growing outlay of antique vehicles as well as addition to the collection in the museum.

Ralph Truax and Rudy Clem-mensen were with me. Ralph was a steam engineer for several years threshing in North Dakota. He also did trouble shooting for steam engine owners who came to him for help. And Rudy? Well, was a Norwegian boy who grew up on a farm at Spring Grove, Minnesota. He went away to school, got into an engineering job of some kind which was his life's work. He is now retired, but keeps going at other things, one is being a drummer in the Shrine Band in St. Paul. But after years of being away from it, Rudy never forgot the smell of straw-burning steamers, the sweat, dirt and barley beards, nor the fine lunches brought out to the machine by the women folks and the kids. And at meal time, who could forget the baked beans, meat, potatoes and gravy topped with cake or every kind of pie? Is it any wonder that his great love is watching steam engines and taking numerous pictures at the shows? As we walked into the show area, we came to Ed Huppert's 80 HP Case Engine. Charles Fellenz and Arnold Schladweiler both from Ellsworth were the engineers. A gasoline wood sawing outfit was cutting slabs into firewood.

Over at the machine shed, a larger tractor was belted to a well-painted 10-20 IHC Mogul that had refused to start, but it soon did.

About that time, I saw Mike Kovich of Jordan and Archie Stevens of Millville, Minnesota. Archie collected steam engines when they were cheap and has quite a number of them. He also has a collection of antique machinery and other things of interest.

About the next people we met were Mr. and Mrs. Walter V. Dorle of 2160 Iglehart, St. Paul. Mr. Dorle was King of the St. Paul Winter Carnival in 1954. In 1972, he retired as President of the Northwestern State Bank of St. Paul. Being a lawyer since 1929, he went back to the practice of law in 1972. At present, he has an office in the Northwestern National Bank Building in St. Paul. With Mr. and Mrs. Dorle was their son, Mike Dorle, an insurance man in St. Paul, his wife. Liz and their five children. Mr. and Mrs. Walter Dorle have four other children, Mrs. Dan Dolan of St. Paul, Barbara, San Francisco, Suzanne, Mrs. Ed Adair of Denver and David, 23, of Milaca, Minnesota where he is assistant editor of a newspaper. Mr. and Mrs. Dorle have 18 grandchildren. And, oh yes, Walter V. Dorle and Ed Huppert are cousins.

Among other people I met were Mr. and Mrs. Salanello of Antioch, California. She is Ed Huppert's daughter. A couple introduced themselves as Mr. and Mrs. Tony Anello from Antioch, California. Mrs. Anello said she came to visit her sister-in-law who is Ed Huppert's daughter.

I met Otto Wathke of 408-1/2 Vine St., Eau Claire, Wisconsin and his friend, David Brazeau, both members of the Chippewa Valley model and antique engine club. Claude Garton of 140 West Truman Ave., Eau Claire, Wisconsin was there with 10 miniature steam engines on display, a miniature sawmill in operation and a model Port Huron traction engine built in 1926 belted to and running a miniature Advance thresher.

There was quite an exhibit of small gas engines. A small apparently home-made threshing machine with hand-feed and slat stacker was powered by a six-horse power gas engine. It did a lot of threshing. Threshing of oat bundles was done with a 22-inch thresher powered by a 25 HP oil engine. We thought this engine fired with a hot tube and some of the fellows said it used diesel fuel. Frank Sommer of Edgar, Wisconsin, was a visitor at Beldenville. He said he attended a threshing bee at Wasau, Wisconsin this summer.

Mike Kovich told me about the trip he made this fall accompanied by Herman Peiper. In Minnesota, they saw lumber sawing in progress at Deer River. They drove on into Canada and visited museums at Saskatoon and North Battleford. Back in the States, they stopped at Billings, Montana, where they talked with Oscar Cook who has a large museum. They also visited sawmills in Montana.

C. D. McCann of 2036 Prospect Street, LaCrosse, Wisconsin was at the show with the model steam traction engine that he built. The engine is a model double cylinder Buffalo Pitts. The boiler stack and deck are Case.

A miniature steam engine mounted near the stack powers an electric generator which lights the headlight and other lights at the rear of the engine. Mr. McCann has a half-round flat topped model water tank. With the engine which is 5 HP and weighs 1380 pounds, he was pulling a light wagon giving rides to youngsters.

Food at the show was plentiful with bar-b-que chicken heading the list at the refreshment stand. The weather was ideal this year and Ed Huppert together with his helpers are to be commended for creating a good show.