Mt. Pleasant, Iowa
As the sixty five steam engines, large and small, chugged away
and visitors roamed around the grounds at McMillan Park in Mt.
Pleasant, Iowa, the general consensus of opinion was that the event
was a huge success and growing. As in years before, there were
several new engines added again, another event or two, and changes
that helped make the show easier to see and a more continuous
program so that there was always something doing.
The grandstand was jam-packed every afternoon and evening and
row of spectators stood or sat alongside the track for the parade
while hundreds milled around the ground. Previous attendance
records were surpassed and a count of cars was made for the first
time on Saturday, the record day, resulting in an estimated
attendance of over 50,000 for the day and over 100,000 for the
entire 4-day reunion.
The addition of 5 acres of ground from the year before and the
large new building for the display of antiques, booths and
demonstrations made it possible to spread out over an area without
crowding and run several engine operations at the same time.
The free gate, grandstand and parking and freedom from
commercialism continues to be the policy of the association and
probably the main reason visitors come back year after year
bringing the whole family and making the event a vacation. As in
the past practically all the states in the union were represented
and a number of visitors from Canada were here.
The ‘Old Thresher of 1958’ honor went to six Pratt
Brothers from Van Buren County, Iowa, ranging in age from 65 to 80
years. The ‘Old Settler of 1958’ award was presented to
John Van Syoc, of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, an 89-year-old.
Iowa’s Governor Loveless rode on an engine in the Cavalcade
of Power and spoke a few words to the visitors in the grandstand
and around the track. Other notables were in attendance. A
television news reel made pictures on the grounds and later these
were shown over stations scattered throughout the country. High
School bands and floats took part in the Cavalcade of Powers which
was a twice daily feature made up of steam engines, old tractors,
antique cars and displays.
The five tents did their usual good job of furnishing thresher
meals to the visitors, the church women and men doing the work that
has mad: their meals one of the big attractions of the reunion.
New on the grounds was an old saddle tank railroad engine which
the association has purchased and partly restored. Since then a
depot has also been secured and moved to the grounds. A small
locomotive with cars took youngsters on rides this year, too.
Biggest engine on the grounds was the 40hp. Avery, bought by
Robert Willits, of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, this past year and hauled
from Tonkawa, Oklahoma. This is a companion for his 18hp.
Undermounted. Largest model was the half-scale one of a 20hp. Star,
double cylinder under-mounted just completed by Nat Lang of
The association was presented a 22hp. 1917 Wood Bros. engine by
Miss Helen Wood of Des Moines in honor of her father, F. J. Wood
who designed and built with his brother, the Wood Bros. engines.
Mr. Wood was an annual visitor to this reunion, a strong booster
for it and ‘Old Thresher of 1951’ recipient.
An outstanding program for the ladies by the Auxiliary included
music, kitchen and home appliance demonstrations, party idea
demonstrations, floats and home talent contest. A daily band
concert, an antique car show, rides for the kiddies, square dancing
and movies in the evening made a well-rounded program with
something of interest for everyone in the family.
And, of course, the daily operation of large and miniature
sawmills by steam, the shingle mill, Prony brake, Baker fan, the
threshing, teeter board balancing and the usual steam engine
activities are to be expected The model engines, too, were
numerous, of a great deal of interest to visitors and took their
part in the Cavalcade of Power and performing
The volunteer help of interested persons and organizations in
and out of Mt. Pleasant and Henry County have made possible the
yearly growth and expansion of the reunion. The addition of more
land and a large building has been a result of a long range program
toward the establishing of a museum on the grounds. With this in
mind the organization has made arrangements for accepting and
preserving relics of pioneer living and farming, and has a good
beginning of donations of historical value. These are displayed
with identification during the reunion.
The Ninth Reunion closed on a day which saw the largest
attendance with much talk of ‘coming back new year.’ Those
dates are September 9-10-11-12, 1959.