Mt. Pleasant, Iowa
The 14th annual reunion of the Midwest Old Settlers and
Threshers Association held September 4-7 was bigger and better than
A hundred engines paraded and performed for the biggest
attendance to date in spite of one rainy day. As usual a dollar
membership was all it cost for adults to attend the four day
festival, children free. Approximately 29,000 bought
The narrow gauge railroad with its mile long track and 1891
cabbage stack locomotive was very busy. Its two coaches and caboose
holding close to a hundred passengers ran on a tight 20 minute
schedule much of the time. Two hold-ups by masked riders caused a
slight delay and the loss of a mail pouch. One bandit was shot but
not captured a companion threw him across his horse and made a
The hundred antique cars were on display in the two story
concrete building and also paraded. Some of them dated away back
there was a 1901 Locomobile. A few collector’s items were
valued at $10,000 each.
Over 50 stationary engines occupied a tent. The thirty or so old
tractors were a far cry from their descendants we now see on farms
but just as glamourous to some, especially the youngsters.
A pioneer village is under way and now consists of the railroad
depot, a one-room country school, barber shop as last year with the
addition of a country store, wagon shop and log cabin. A country
church has been secured and plans are to move it in. Other
buildings of the time are being planned. The country store had a
continuous line of patrons going in the front door and out the back
some stopping to buy old fashioned candy and inspect the displays
which were just as in the old days.
As usual the sawmill operated steadily, with the several steam
engines taking their turn on the belt. The Prony brake and Baker
fan had a good work out. The shingle mill, flour mill, various
separators and baler were put to use.
As in other years, there were a few new engines with the regular
ones: the Cases, Under-mounted Averys, Wood Brothers,
Nichols-Shepard, Gaar-Scott, Baker, Kitten, Huber, Port Hum,
Minneapolis, Keck-Gonnerman, Reeves, Russell, Rumely and
Since its beginning in 1950 several parcels of land have been
bought and added. Now another 14 acres will extend the grounds to
the south. In spite of the large crowd and many activities there
seems to be plenty of room.
The buildings were used to capacity. The displays of pioneer
furnishings, antiques dishes, glass ware, guns, and equipment were
good and interesting. Mrs. Monson put on her spinning and carding
demonstration. The ladies auxiliary had separate displays in the
shelter house and programs which included musical skits, cooking
demonstrations lectures on Indian lore and a program by Hugh
Orchard, the 90-year-old ‘Grand Old Man of Chautauqua.’
This was right in keeping with the evening chautauqua given in the
big tent on two evenings.
The success of the chautauqua has resulted in plans for the 1964
reunion to include chautauqua each of the four nights as well as
the Cavalcade of Power, and on one night probably a parade of
About 30 model engines came in for their share of attention. So
did the steam table which had 13 stationary models under steam.
They were the work of one man covering a period of twenty five
years, Frank Lesley of Peoria, I11.
The steam merry-go-round with its galloping horses and caliope
carried old and young riders. The old time medicine man and his
wagon were in evidence. The Fife and Drum Corps performed in the
parade and around the grounds. The Old Fiddlers held their contest
as did the horse shoe pitchers and checker players. Community
singing was spontaneous around the organ in the little one-room
school and around the electric organ in the shelter house. The old
tunes and songs are hard to beat.
Seven churches put out the old threshers meals for which the
reunion is noted. There was eating in the tents from the middle of
the forenoon until 8 at night.
The Cavalcade of Power was led by the high school marching band.
The announcer described the various engines and identified the
passengers as they passed before the crowded amphitheatre, getting
an answering toot from the whistle. Pete Bucher balanced a 10-ton
Port Huron engine on the teeter board as easily as he has done it
The shuttle bus (free) between town and the air port and the
grounds was kept busy. Planes were coming and going. Ed Vogel from
Buhl, Idaho, flew in for his tenth year at the reunion. He has nine
engines on his ranch and runs one in the Cavalcade of Power.
A ham radio station broadcast messages to foreign countries and
other states for visitors.
Visitors remark about their pleasure in attending an event free
from commercialism, raucons midways and concessions. There is
something going on all the time, room to sit down in the shade of
one wishes, and plenty of time to leisurely enjoy the reunion. The
friendly atmosphere is typical of Mt. Pleasant. The success of the
reunions has been the result of hundreds of volunteer workers going
all out to make it possible for visitors to have a good time.
Better come and see for yourself. The 1964 dates are September
9, 10, 11 and 12 the last four days of Labor Day week as usual.