Rt 1, Box 28 Nome, North Dakota 58062
Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion at Rollag, Minnesota
is planning the 1992 J.I. Case Exposition celebrating 150 years of
the Case Company. We have been planning since 1990 in preparation
for this exceptional event. A lot of time and long range plans have
already been put into this J.I. Case Expo. All the committees meet
every second Thursday of each month. The show will be held on Labor
Day weekend, September 4-7, 1992. Anyone reading this article is
most cordially invited to participate in this special event.
Photo #1: Engine #15288 – Case 20 HP built in 1905. Sold new in
1906 to Mike Eichsniller, bought in 1948 by N.B. Nelson, Rollag,
now owned by son, Arlen Nelson. Case shop in background. Photo
taken July 4, 1952; photo credit Arlen Nelson.
In the 1930s N.B. Nelson and his wife Violet ran a small country
general store in Rollag. Mr. Nelson had been a farmer and
thresherman most of his life. Mr. Nelson would make routine trips
to Fargo, North Dakota, some 35 miles away, to secure stock for his
store at Rollag. Since Rollag was an inland village with no
railroads or major highways, Mr. Nelson would usually stop at the
J.I. Case branch in Fargo to pick up parts for himself and other
neighbors in the area. This was not unusual, as a distance of 35
miles in those days was considered a trip! Nowadays people will
think nothing of driving 75 miles just to have dinner! Anyway, it
was from this association with the Case Company of Fargo that the
company persuaded N.B. Nelson to become a Case dealer at Rollag in
1941. There has since been a Case dealer there on up until today
with the new Case IH dealership. By 1950 most all steam threshing
outfits had retired from the long threshing runs when combines had
taken over, a time when most farmers went on doing their own
harvesting, taking on the more modern ways. During the 1940s and
early 1950s a few neighbors in the Rollag area would get together a
few falls to thresh a little with a 20 HP Case engine belonging to
the Nelson family for old times sake. So it wasn’t more fitting
that N.B. Nelson, in 1954, along with his brothers and neighbors,
organized a small steam threshing bee held October 2. The public
was invited and the first show was held. The first show button was
put out for this event. Nelsons steamed up their Case 20 HP engine
and a 40 x 62 Case separator along with their old Gaar Scott 25 HP
double simple, and with other engines put on a good show for the
public. This little threshing demonstration then led to what is now
WMSTR, which has become one of the biggest and best shows of its
kind in the U.S. and Canada.
Photo #2: original photo (circa 1915) of a new 12-25 Case
tractor and separator at the J.I. Case factory branch in Fergus
Falls, MN. Also Case car in the background.
The Case dealership has stayed in the Nelson family from the
start. N.B. Nelson let his son Noel Nelson take over the business
in 1961. After a few years, in 1972, because of health reasons,
Noel Nelson sold the dealership to another family member, his first
cousin Lawrence Aakre, who is presently operating the Case IH
dealership. Noel and Lawrence are both cooperating as co-chairmen
of the planned 150 years of J.I. Case celebration.
WMSTR is expanding the show grounds with 15 acres of fenced area
just for the Expo. Parking and food concessions will also be
enlarged. There will be exhibitors from as far away as the east
coast who intend to bring Case engines that we do not have on the
grounds at the present time.
Plans are to have more than one of the scarce 1915 vintage 12-25
tractors at the Expo. These tractors came in either the gas or
The Case factory branch in Fergus Falls, MN was there as early
as 1900 and probably before. (See Photo #2.) This photo depicts the
scarce 12-25 and Case separator which were ‘brand spanken’
new at the time, probably just prior to delivery to a customer. The
car in back of the tractor is also a Case! It appears that the man
on the tractor is a sales rep or president of the branch office. He
is dressed in a white shirt, tie and dress coat, and of course, a
Case stick pin in his lapel! A four bottom plow with bottoms
tripped back for transport is hitched behind the separator.
Photo #3 is a 1989 picture of a 1917 kerosene 12-25 completely
restored and owned by Wayne Schmidt of Monroe, South Dakota. This
tractor is one of the 12-25’s that will be shown at the Case
Expo at Rollag in the fall. Wayne bought his tractor in 1978 from
his good friend Don Hinds, also from S.D. Don had found this
tractor in Worland, Wyoming where he bought it in 1976 and brought
her home. The tractor is a 1917 kerosene burner. Wayne says the
tractor was pretty much complete except for the missing bull
pinion. Wayne had the parts cast by Charley Simpson, all being done
to original specs. This being no easy task, it had to be done to
get the tractor restored to original condition. Mr. Schmidt
restored the tractor from the frame up and she looks like a beauty!
Wayne says the job took at least 150 hours to complete. He did the
job from January 1989 to August 1989.
The 12-25 Case tractors made their first public appearance at
the Winnipeg Motor contest in 1913 where they won the gold medal
producing 33 percent more drawbar pull than the closest
Plans are to have six or more 110 HP Case steam engines at the
show along with 80’s, 75’s, 65’s and most of the models
to be on display sawing lumber, threshing or plowing. We plan on
having all the Cross Motor Case models, including the rare 40-72,
of which only five are known in the world. We plan to have all
sizes and models of Case steam or gas tractors, cars, horse and
tractor machinery, that is humanly possible to get, on up to
present day, to exhibit or demonstrate for this great event.
Photo #4 was taken prior to July of 1913, being the date this
postcard was mailed from Joplin, Montana. The message side of this
picture postcard tells of the two young ladies on the plow who are
girl friends of the operators. The card had been mailed to their
friend at Kenmare, N.D. The plow appears to be a John Deere eight
bottom and seems to be doing an excellent job of laying the sod.
The Case 60 HP oil tractors received the highest score for design
and construction at the Winnipeg Motor Contest in 1912. The Case 60
tractor had a two-cylinder engine that ran at 350 r.p.m. with a 10
x 12 bore and stroke. Their ignition system was the make and break
type using batteries only for starting purposes. This tractor was
actually designed and built for the Case Company by Twin City Steel
Machinery of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The 60 oil tractors would burn
gas and lower grades of fuel such as kerosene, naphtha, distillate,
the fuel used mostly being determined by price and supply.
The Rollag Show’s rare J.I. Case 30-60 tractor is shown in
Photo #5. The picture was taken during the 1991 show last fall.
They are plowing with an eight bottom John Deere plow in heavy wet
soil adjacent to the show grounds. Mark Pederson is driving the
tractor and Bob Jostad is on the plow.
Photo #6 is of Rollag’s Case 30-60 tractor belted up to the
Case 36-58 separator during the 1991 show.
The 30-60 in these two photos (#’s 5 & 6) is now owned
by WMSTR. The tractor was formerly owned by Norman Pross of
Luverne, North Dakota. Norman generously donated it to the
association. Norman is well noted for his knowledge and collecting
of tractors or steam engines. This tractor is quite rare, as it
seems there are only six or seven known today. The tractor will,
for sure, be one of the unique tractors for the Case display during
There will be a good display of Case memorabilia, literature,
watch fobs, pins, signs, toys, etc. We intend to have a secure
place for exhibitors to show these items. We plan to have security
around the clock in the expo area besides the main show
We plan on having some large tents for the representative J.I.
Case organizations to house their displays.
The 1992 show will be for the J.I. Case enthusiasts for sure,
but will not be only be Case of course, as we have about 40 steam
engines, 200 gas tractors, 300 gas engines, of various makes and
models. Also a turn of the century farm area featuring draft horses
doing haying, threshing with horse power and other jobs of that
era, near our 1910 vintage farm house and barn.
There are also ladies’ activities, a steam locomotive that
circles the grounds, a merry-go-round, the largest collection of
Otto gas engines in the world and much more. All this is free with
the gate admission.
So we at WMSTR urge you to start making plans to come and see us
in 1992. We are eager to meet you, and for you to help make this a
great show and a good time for all. This will certainly be a
fitting way to celebrate J.I. Case and his company’s 150th