THE INTER-COUNTY LEADER, Wisconsin
Nearly every community in Polk and Burnett Counties, and many from a greater distance were represented at the sixth annual Steam Engine Day at the Gilmar Johnson farm in West Sweden, Frederic, Saturday.
Bright autumn weather helped make it a grand day for the crowd of about 2,000 in attendance. Each year the affair grows in popularity. It was a good clean crowd and everyone was enthusiastic about the engines and the other old time machinery, rebuilt, re-polished and actually operating. The shrill steam whistle was common, as folks were invited to try out the cord.
Gilmar Johnson had in operation a collection of valuable antique machinery, rarely seen in this area These, together with some items brought by other fans, offered a wide variety of activities including threshing with two outfits, plowing, baling, shredding corn, and sawing lumber, shingles and wood.
Johnson's 1908 Advance, rated at 12 h.p., or 36 by comparison, was engineered by O. W. Bowen of Woodman, Wisconsin, and his 1912 Case, listed as 9 h. p., but actually 30, was engineered that day by Harold Churchill of Rock Elm, near Elmwood. His 1918 Case 50 was under the care of Dan Booth of Ellsworth. Hardy Lindblad drove his 45-year-old 60 hp Case, complete with canopy, over from Trade Lake as it is equipped with rubber. Jens M. Hansen's huge 1920 Minneapolis engine had been brought up from Luck, and he was there to operate it. These together with Johnson's 1920 Indiana, 1923 Titan and 1927 Fordson tractors were shifted around operating a variety of machines, including a 1892 36 inch Case threshing machine, all wood, hand feeder; and his Keystone Champion wooden overshot.
Dan Booth and Nyle Kurth of Eau Claire, operated a steamer, pulling five bottoms, and could easily have handled eight.
Carol Peterson of Trade Lake, was there with his Jackson Timber harvester, sawing logs, and Clinton D. Jackson and his wife of Mondovi, were present. Jens Hansen's shingle mill was quite an attraction, folks picking up the shingles for autographs and souvenirs.
One of the new attractions was the tiny one-third model of an Advance Rumley and mill, brought by Leon Vandervort, a life-time lumberman of Tomah who spent seven years making it.
Harold Churchill, Elmwood, brought his upright steamer and boiler, and Clifford Larson of Deer Park had his car, operated by steam, on display.
As in all hobby shows, those who understood the high degree of skill needed to keep in repair and operate these machines, were the ones who really appreciated the day. The fans have a number of organizations, visit each other and swap letters, pictures and trade magazines.
Mr. Johnson would appreciate good pictures taken that day.
Coming the farthest, 750 miles, were Mr. and Mrs. Davis Sullivan of Markelville, Indiana. The Saters and Ernests were up from Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, and dozens from Minnesota and southern and central Wisconsin. Local folks were amazed at the spirit which brought so many folks so many miles with such enthusiasm. Sunday, too, was a busy day as some fans stayed and others came, mistaking the date.
Forty gallons of coffee were consumed, 500 doughnuts, a similar number
of hamburgers and 200 wieners and buns, and over a dozen cases of pop. Roll upon roll of colored movies and stills were snapped.
Gilmar Johnson and his wife helped to put this area on the map, by presenting a collection of smoothly operating antiques that compared favorably with similar events which have been given nationwide recognition.
We hereby express our many thanks to all who helped us in any way at our last steam engine day.
Special thanks to J. M. Hansen, Hardy Lindblad, Carol Peterson, Leon Vandervorst, Wedin Bros., Lewis Peterson, Joe Pangerl, Harold Churchill, Wm. Herpst, and Clifford, Larson, who furnished equipment used for various events.
We feel very grateful to all who helped support our endeavors.
GILMAR AND ALICE JOHNSON