PROWLING MINNESOTA


| May/June 1984



65 Case engine

Anthony Carlson at controls of a 65 Case engine at the 1983 Steam & Gas Show in Roosevelt, Minnesota. Dale Nielson is assisting.

Rt. 1, Box 145-A Railford, Florida 32083

Pictures from Carlos Grove

What's in Northern Minnesota besides timber, wolves, bears, moose, Indians and a few hardy Swedes and Norwegians trying to eke an existence out of a harsh frozen land? This is the question that most of the folks in the United States south of the Twin Cities ask the Minnesotans that they meet in other parts of the country.

Well, the folks from Roosevelt, Warroad, Roseau and Greenbush will tell you that there's the Lake of the Woods Steam and Gas Engine Show at Grove Farms a few miles north of Roosevelt, Minnesota on the first weekend in August every year.

If you have a feeling for farming, love nostalgia and remember how our parents and grandparents made their living from the land and earned their daily bread by the sweat of their brow, then this is the place to be. As we turn north from Highway 11 onto Route 17, we see fertile farm land interspersed with woodland. Wheat, oats, flax, corn, hay and sunflowers are awaiting the giant combines and balers. Birch, aspen, spruce, tamarack and ash shelter deer, other animals and birds. Farm houses, barns, grain bins surrounded by shelter breaks of trees seem to sit close to the land.

After a zig and a zag where the road follows the section lines, we are greeted by a large sign announcing the Lake of the Woods Steam and Gas Engine Show and we turn into the show grounds. We are warmly welcomed and shown to a nice shady spot where we parked our Prowler travel trailer. We meet Alice, Carlos, John and Leon Grove, Grace and Cliff Comstock, Jake Janzen, Jay and Jeanette Estling, Millard Jensen, the Shimpa family and many others who are busy getting the equipment, signs, food and supplies organized for the opening the next day. On the grounds is a large assortment of old steam traction engines, old gas and kerosene tractors, large and small, gasoline stationary engines, threshing machines or separators, hand and horse operated plows, a beautiful old cutter and other old farm machinery. Scale model threshing machines and a scale model sawmill are powered by a scale model steam engine operated by the Shimpas of Erskine, Mn. One of the most impressive exhibits is a huge old operating sawmill, complete with resaw and edger and slab cut off saw, all powered by a large steam traction engine via long, flat, flexible belts. This mill is owned by the Cliff Comstock family, who have used this very same mill and steam traction engine since the early 1900's to saw large tracts of timber in this vicinity of northern Minnesota. This mill produced one million board feet of lumber in its heyday under three generations of Comstocks. It is in perfect operating condition, and the Comstocks demonstrate the speed and efficiency of this beautiful old machinery that converts the waste slabs from the logs into steam that powers the mill operation. There is a shingle mill that converts fifteen inch blocks of cedar logs into fine tapered wonderful smelling natural cedar shingles that most of the early homes and barns were roofed with. There is a natural beauty to buildings of rough sawn lumber with cedar shingle roofs that seems to be just right in a wooded setting.