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Steam Threshing Inspires the WMSTR

The Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion was started by a threshing crew with a desire to bring steam threshing back to life

| November 1999

  • A vintage ad for a Wood thresher, like that of Herb Stomberg's terrifying experience.
    A vintage ad for a Wood thresher, like that of Herb Stomberg's terrifying experience.

  • A vintage ad for a Wood thresher, like that of Herb Stomberg's terrifying experience.

After gasoline engines took over the jobs of threshing, many of the old hands begin to miss the process of steam threshing. 

"It was during threshing time on the William Nelson farm one sunny day in August 1940," writes William Nelson, "while the threshing crew was seated around the long dinner table participating of a luscious noonday meal prepared by Mrs. Nelson and her helpers, that conversation led to steam threshing. Several of the old timers expressed their desire to see a steam engine work again.

"Someone finally suggested: why don't we take the Gaar-Scott out of the shed, and thresh with steam power for a day? The response to this suggestion was unanimous, and it was decided when the threshing machine and crew came back to the old Nelson homestead, where the Gaar-Scott was shedded at that time, the engine would be groomed for action, and taken out in the field to power the threshing machine again.

"So then and there, on Aug. 20, 1940, the Rollag Threshing Reunion was born.

"The day set for this first event turned out to be one of those lovely harvest days with a cool northwest breeze and lots of sunshine and blue sky above. The steam engine was belted up to the 40x62 Case separator, and we threshed with steam again. Several of our neighbors came to watch the old engine work again, and colored movie pictures were taken at the event. After this first steam threshing show was over, which was very much enjoyed by those participating and by the spectators who came to watch, it was decided to make this an annual event."

In 1954, the event went public, and was renamed the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers' Reunion, with all events since dated from that first WMSTR reunion. FC 


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