Rollag;, Minnesota: LAND OF THE GIANTS


| September/October 1997



Birdsall engine

RR 13, Box 209 Brazil, Indiana 47834

12 HP Birdsall engine owned by Everett Johnson of Pelican Falls, MN. Birdsall traction engines were all equipped with an automotive type front steering, instead of usual slow responding chain steering.

Many of the larger steam shows in the United States are set on the same date Labor Day weekend, so you must choose between several shows to decide which to attend. Over the years, my friend Joe Graziana and I had attended all of the shows in the Midwest held on Labor Day weekend. We decided that in 1996 we would journey up to Minnesota to see what the Rollag Show was about.

We started the trip with a small amount of trepidation as we had a 900 mile drive before us and we had heard mixed reviews on the show from some of our steam friends. We decided to attend the show with an open mind and to enjoy ourselves which we did. As we were driving in western Minnesota there was no doubt that we were in wheat country, as many of the high hills along the Interstate had a rusting threshing machine sitting on the highest peak. These 'silent sentinels' had their feeders unfolded and reminded us of times past, when they, along with steam engines and tractors, were the masters of these wheat fields.

The town of Rollag is certainly a small town, as a church, a few houses, and the Western Minnesota Thresherman's Reunion show grounds comprise the entire town. The Rollag show grounds are very large and have two sawmills, a full size railroad and depots, a large pond, numerous buildings (which store equipment, large stationary engines and other displays), a historic village with many homesteads and businesses, a farmstead, two campgrounds; one for visitors, one for show workers.

Joe Graziana of Woodriver, IL in front of a 1907 45 HP Minneapolis tandem compound steam engine serial #5761. Owned by Norm Pross of Luverne, ND. Only seven engines of this type were built by Minneapolis.