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
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.’