Maynard's Last Old Steam Engine Ride

Honoring Maynard Westgaard with a final ride on a restored Case steam tractor

| Online Exclusive

  • The late Maynard (MD) Westgaard.
    The late Maynard (MD) Westgaard.
  • The team with the restored Case
    The "engineering team" with their restored 65 hp Case steam tractor. Maynard Westgaard can be seen at far right.
  • The Case preparing for Maynard's last ride.
    The Case preparing for Maynard's last ride.
  • Maynard's last steam engine ride
    The Case during Maynard's last steam engine ride.
  • Team and passengers help push the steam engine up a slippery slope.
    Team and passengers help push the steam engine up a slippery slope.
  • The last ride for our steam friend, the late M.D. Westgaard.
    The last ride for our steam friend, the late M.D. Westgaard.
  • A view from the hayrack: M.D.'s urn in the wood box atop the water tank.
    A view from the hayrack: M.D.'s urn in the wood box atop the water tank.
  • Family and friends bury M.D. at Pinewood Dodge Cemetery
    Family and friends bury M.D. at Pinewood Dodge Cemetery.
  • Family and friends bury M.D. at Pinewood Dodge Cemetery
    Friends and family bury M.D. at Pinewood Dodge Cemetery.
  • Thor Thorson and Andy Mack with the restored Case
    Thor Thorson (left) and Andy Mack behind the wheel of the restored 65 hp Case steam tractor.
    Image courtesy The Pioneer
  • The steam engine caravan returns to M.D.'s deer shack.
    The steam engine caravan returns to M.D.'s deer shack.
  • The steam engine team.
    The steam engine team. Left to right: Jim Peternell, Andy Mack, Thor Thorson, Morris Nelson.
  • Newspaper article featuring the restored Case
    Part of the spread featured in The Pioneer featuring the restored Case steam tractor.
    Image courtesy The Pioneer

  • The late Maynard (MD) Westgaard.
  • The team with the restored Case
  • The Case preparing for Maynard's last ride.
  • Maynard's last steam engine ride
  • Team and passengers help push the steam engine up a slippery slope.
  • The last ride for our steam friend, the late M.D. Westgaard.
  • A view from the hayrack: M.D.'s urn in the wood box atop the water tank.
  • Family and friends bury M.D. at Pinewood Dodge Cemetery
  • Family and friends bury M.D. at Pinewood Dodge Cemetery
  • Thor Thorson and Andy Mack with the restored Case
  • The steam engine caravan returns to M.D.'s deer shack.
  • The steam engine team.
  • Newspaper article featuring the restored Case

Maynard Westgaard (MD) from Bemidji, Minn., kept his hands busy working to bring old steam engines back to life with his friends. The “engineering team” fondly referred to one another by their initials: T.E. Thorson, A.C. Mack, M.E. Thorson, M.D. Froyd, A. M. Amundson, D. D. Tryon and M.D. Westgaard. 

In 1999, the team restored a 1921 single-cylinder, 65 hp Case steam tractor the Thorson brothers inherited from their father. The old steam engine was originally purchased new in Albany, Minn., and then sold to Iten Brothers in St. Mathias, south of Brainerd, Minn. From Iten’s, it was sold to Rudy Rudbeck of Pillager, Minn. In 1968 Ernest (Ernie) Thorson purchased the Case steam tractor, but by then the serial number tag was no longer on the old steam engine.

Maynard (MD) was the plumbing expert who bent steel pipe at precise angles for the water column, ensuring the threads were safe and secure. Precision was critical. It took MD three tries to get it just right.

The steam tractor restoration was featured on an entire page in the local Sunday paper, The Pioneer, on June 24, 2001, as “Iron Horsepower” with three colorful pictures of the gleaming old steam engine and the engineering team. They were all so proud of the tractor restoration, and deservedly so.



One wintry day in December of 2010, MD’s busy hands stopped working when he died of lung complications. The funeral was a litany of words of praise about an honest, hard-working man who would do anything for anyone. It was hard to hear all the fond remembrances with all the sniffling and crying.

Maynard’s family had one last request. They wanted the Case steam tractor at his final burial service. It would be tricky business to run an old steam engine on slippery slopes in northern Minnesota, so the decision was made to take Maynard’s ashes to the cemetery the following May.



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