Ladies of Vintage Steam

Ladies from steam help expand interest in vintage steam engines around the world.

| August 2020

The Ladies of Steam, Jen Roth (left) and Nicole Wallace, using Welsh-mined coal on a 22hp undermount Avery owned by Scott Hall, Wichita, Kan., at the 50th annual Dorset Steam Fair in England in 2018.

Jen Roth and Nicole Wallace aren’t afraid to get down and dirty while working on steam engines at shows and demonstrations around the U.S. and abroad. As co-founders of Ladies of Steam, LLC, the duo works to educate people in the historical significance of these antique engines. 

Jen, who lives in Sartell, Minnesota, is a clinical psychologist at the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. Nicole, who lives in the Detroit Lakes area of that state, is an agricultural engineer. “I help farmers and landowners apply conservation in the fields, so I design plans and projects that help protect our natural resources,” Nicole says.

Both women grew up in families full of steam enthusiasts and have had hands-on engine experience since their early teens. The two met in 2011 at the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion (WMSTR) in Rollag, Minnesota. “We connected right away and started to get to know one another,” Nicole says. “We ended up going to steam shows together. It was enjoyable, having another female friend to go with.”

WMSTR is an annual, non-profit steam show that draws crowds of nearly 80,000 each Labor Day weekend. “Rollag is fortunate to have a lot of women involved in steam,” Jen says, “yet there’s still not a lot of women in the grand scheme, so it was really wonderful to meet Nicole.”

Putting an emphasis on education

As they became better acquainted, Jen and Nicole hit on the idea of establishing a platform where interested people could share their interest in the steam hobby. When they started a Facebook page in 2015, they never expected to draw steam enthusiasts from more than 60 countries. “We had international participation within the first week,” Jen notes, “and currently have more than 10,000 followers.”


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