Twenty Years Down the Trail with the Lake Region Pioneer Threshermen's Assoc

Steam and gas tractors

This is part of the parade at the 1972 Show. Hundreds lined up to view the many steam and gas tractors.

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Sent to us us by Ralph Risbrudt, Dalton, Minnesota 56324

Twenty years have passed since the club staged its first show. During those early years very few threshing shows were held and if there were any, they were hundreds of miles away. Joe Rynda of Montgomery, Minnesota was the closest and he used an old steam engine and a hand feed separator. There was one show in Pontiac, Illinois; LeRoy Blaker of Alverton, Ohio; a few in New York State, Iowa, Canada and Pennsylvania. Otherwise we had very little knowledge of any show and how they were conducted.

The first show was staged on a Saturday afternoon, October 10, 1954. We had three steam engines and one separator and threshed about seven stacks of grain. This show was held for three years on the George Melby's farm five miles southeast of Dalton. The fourth year it was moved to the outskirts of Dalton, Minnesota. This was done to get added help which was provided by the Dalton Community Club. They sponsored the show for several years and still help us. To buy equipment, to build up the show was not easy, but it was done. The owners of the equipment spent hundreds of hours repairing and painting. There was no thought about pay. As time went on more people became interested in this old machinery. Even young boys began to look for an old gas engine as they didn't have the money for anything else. Older men began to look for steam engines and tractors. Steam engines could be bought but we were a little fussy about what it was and maybe walked away from an engine that looked good, but was it?

After a couple of years the club leased the present grounds and started plans to build sheds to house the equipment. A 42' x 108' shed was built. We really thought we had something that should do us for several years - two years later we built the second 36' x 60' shed. We now thought that the buying of steam engines was coming to an end so no more housing was needed. Four years later 40' x 100' quonset type shed was erected. Then two rural school houses were given to the club to help preserve the past. One is set as an old rural school with desk, books, maps, even to an old water fountain. The other is used for a museum as we are short of room in the other buildings.

The members of the club wished to incorporate and they did so and incorporated the club for $10,000.00. Shares could now be sold. Last year the club raised the corporate stock to $50,000. The land where the buildings are was purchased and more land was leased for parking and grain. Last summer the club built another 86' x 120' building. This is used for 'doings' during the show and a museum during the summer months - at present it is full of engines. A large collection of horse machinery was given to the club and shall be under cover very soon. A power windmill was brought in. The club built the wooden tower for it. These are very rare. A much needed modern men's and women's toilets was built last summer and has city water and sewer, making this show among the most modern.

The club has done landscaping and plans for more; also planting trees where needed. Burlington Northern railway sold the club the Dalton depot and it is standing on the grounds ready for a railway to be built. We have a locomotive, 2 ft. gauge, 4 drive wheels weighing about 8 tons. It needs some repairs but is in nice shape. The water tenders are on the sides and is coal or wood fired. We hope to have this going in the not too distant future.

To date we have some thirty steam engines 8 to 36 h.p. Also over 40 gas tractors up to 60 h.p. besides grain separators, plows, saw mill, lath mill, and shingle mill. Six stationary steam engines besides a large boiler for same. These engines range from 2 h.p. to 250 h.p. Some 100 stationary gas engines are also on display - some are very unique. They range in horsepower from 1 to 40 h.p. In themselves they are a real show.

The traction engines are as follows: 36 h.p. Rumely, 35 h.p. Nichols & Shepard, 25 h.p. Wood Bros., Two 25 h.p. Nichols & Shepard single cylinder, 32 h.p. cross compound Reeves 30 H.P. Russel, two 28 h.p. Minneapolis, 25 h.p. Nichols & Shepard double cylinder, 25 h.p. Advance Rumely; 22 h.p. Advance, 22 h.p. Keck Gonnerman, 16 H.P. Baker Road roller, 65 h.p. Case, 80 h.p. Case, 8 h.p. Case; two 25 h.p. Gaar Scott R.M. single cylinder, 25 h.p. Gaar Scott double, 1869 Aultman Taylor, 30 h.p. Huber, 22 h.p. Avery, 12 h.p. Westinghouse, 14 h.p. Minnesota Giant chaindrive, 12 h.p. Advance, 16 h.p. Advance, 25 h.p. Rumely 30 h.p. Rumely plow engines. The gas tractors are as follows: (I only list the large ones) 30-60 Aultman Taylor; 40-80 Avery 1914 model; 25-50 Avery; 30-60 Russell; 40-80 Minneapolis; 30-60 Rumely old style; 27-44 Twin City; 40-62 Huber. These are only a few of the tractors we have. Other makes include: Silver King, Minneapolis, Fordson, Titan, John Deere, Farmall and many more.

This past year the club sold tickets instead of buttons - this was a big saving! We bought souvenior buttons that we sold at the office for 25 cents. The club has been publishing a book to be sold at the show and it has been very well received. There is no advertising to take up space and the fans like that. We have been very fortunate with the weather - it has rained around us several times but not at the time of the show. We are thankful for that. We wish to thank all, the helpers and fans that have been coming here for years and we expect you to be back again for our next show. If it wasn't for you - we would be soon through.

I'd like to thank Joe Fanestock of Union City, Indiana for his most interesting articles and religious comments in the Album. Wish we had more writings along these lines. Well, the steam is pretty well down, might as well bank the fire and wait for tomorrow. Hope to fire up again and get some more ideas soon. See you this fall at the show.