ROCK RIVER CLUB HISTORY


| March/April 1977


Janesville, Wisconsin 53545.

Some years ago John Horton of Edgerton, Wisconsin got the urge to thrash his grain by steam power. He invited several of his friends to help him, not only his friends, but about 400 strangers showed. You can imagine his amazement when such a large group of spectators came to watch him thrash with an old separator using steam for power. The year was 1955 and this steam enthusiasm just grew and grew. It outgrew John's farm, and the American Legion Park in Edgarton a few years later.

In 1960 a club was formed. They purchased 30 acres of property in Rock County, midway between Edgerton and Janesville on Highway 51, easily accessible from 1-90. Two years later the purchase expanded to 110 acres. Being close to the Rock River it was soon christened 'Rock Thrasheree Park.'

The following year Mr. Walter Durst, Foundry and Machine Works owner, was vacationing in Germany. While there he discovered a small 75 horse power, saddle tank, dockside, steam locomotive. He loved it and was able to purchase it, which he did and shipped it home. The Henschel Engine, built in 1943 in Kassel, straddles a 600 millimeter track (23.65) inches, a gauge for which no rolling stock was available in the United States. Walter built the rolling stock to fit. He reconstructed the engine as a Civil War Model, complete with two cars, which he also built naming it the 'Rock River Cannon Ball.' It now makes many trips around the 1 mile track through the park during the summer months.

A short time later a large pile driver was added by Mr. Peter Burno of Deforest, Wisconsin. This machine is a fantastic piece of equipment, capable of driving a pole 20 feet into the solid ground by steam power. Its tower is 70 feet high.

Many other rare antique, proto type, and one of a kind machines are kept at the park, including a shingle mill manufactured in 1902 and a 50 horse power, 1910 Fairbanks-Morse, 2 cycle diesel engine which was used to furnish power for a feed mill in Clarno, Illinois.






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