South Dakota Threshermen Building History-Town

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Courtesy of Dana C. Jennings, 216 NW 7. Madison, South Dakota 57042 A 1912 Rumely Oil Pull attracts visitors to the village fund drive headquarters.
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Courtesy of Dana C. Jennings, 216 NW 7. Madison, South Dakota 57042 The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce suddenly discovered 10,000 people were gathered - 14 miles out of town. Their efforts to draw subsequent crowds into town gave rise to the Prairie
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Courtesy of Dana C. Jennings, 216 NW 7. Madison, South Dakota 57042 Getting there and back can be a problem.
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Courtesy of Dana C. Jennings 216 NW 7. Madison, South Dakota 57042 A solid acre of working models amused children of all ages.
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Courtesy of Dana C. Jennings, 216 NW 7. Madison, South Dakota 57042 Headquarters displays antique engines, X-rays, radios.
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Courtesy of Dana C. Jennings, 216 NW 7, Madison, South Dakota 57042 Every kind of working model appears at the annual Steam Threshing Jamboree.
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Courtesy of Dana C. Jennings, 216 NW 7, Madison, South Dakota 57042 Six engines threshed grain. More are expected at the 1966 Jamboree, August 24-26, at Madison, South Dakota.
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Courtesy of Dana C. Jennings, 216 NW 7. Madison, South Dakota 57042 Steam plowing was something few visitors had ever seen.

216 NW 7, Madison, S. Dakota, 57042

Ten thousand people swarmed across the stubble fields and
pastures of a farm 14 miles north of Madison, seat of rural Lake
Country, South Dakota. Biggest thing ever to happen to the county,
mused the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce – and here it was,
miles out of town. What can we do to bring these 10,000 people into
town?

Attracting the crowd was the third annual Eastern South Dakota
Threshermen’s Steam Threshing Jamboree. Suddenly the C/C
decided to give the event some sponsorship. Previously their
attitude had been that if they’d ignore it, it might go
‘way. Suddenly they awoke to the opportunity which had been
tickling their noses for three years while they snored soundly
on.

Upshot of a long winter of discussion was the transformation of
the Eastern South Dakota Threshermen’s Association into the
Prairie Historical Association, Inc., which immediately launched a
drive for $100,000 to build a pioneer village adjoining
Madison.

Members promptly assembled small barrel engines of an early
date, an ox yoke, an early hand-cranked washing machine, a battery
radio and other items of the pioneer past. They installed a
secretary and a telephone, printed brochures and got the drive on
the road.

The hunt for land turned up the availability of 130 acres in an
ideal spot: immediately west of the city limits, fronting U.S. 81 –
S.D. 34 and between the highway and Lake Herman State Park, the
second most popular tourist attraction in the state.

Business donated sums of a thousand dollars up to five thousand
dollars. East River Electric Power Cooperative voted to buy $10,000
worth of land for the site. Individuals pledged amounts from a few
dollars to over $1,000, and many people donated antique
equipment.

Professor Joe Habeger, mathematician at General Beadle State
College, Madison, gave a 1915 Case 20-40 2 cylinder tractor; farmer
Palmer Reinicke, Winfred, donated a 4-hole spring corn sheller; Joe
Richter, Madison, gave two barrel engines; Larry Green, the town
artist, donated a big sign for the front of the building, painted a
water color of the proposed village and created a clever
‘choo-choo’ sign showing the progress of the fund drive.
The little steam train has already passed its halfway mark.

The village scribe immediately set about cranking out free
publicity, magazine articles, newspaper articles and a brochure.
Businessmen headed committees and the first thing anybody knew, the
following buildings were pledged to the village: a frontier jail;
an early depot; a one-room school-house; a typical early farm
house; claim shanty; a complete turn-of-the century blacksmith
shop. Miss Bena Jacobs, a local school principal, volunteered to
build a genuine soddy.

Also planned are a steam railroad, a steam-driven merry-go-round
of an early date complete with calliope and a 1900 theater. An
airstrip will be built and classic airplanes will be restored to
flying condition to use it. Professor Habeger has dragooned his
friends and other members to help him restore a Jenny, a World War
I 2-place trainer biplane.

A 2-story, 4-room log house was discovered at Canton, 75 miles
southeast, built in the 70’s and soon covered with clapboards
on the outside and plaster on the inside so the oak and walnut logs
are in ‘mint condition’. Volunteers have stripped the
plaster and clapboarding off and are planning to move the house –
log-by-log if necessary – to the village site.

Beards are sprouting all over the place as the more virile
members of the community leap into the spirit of the project. The
Chamber of Commerce had huge lapel buttons made bigger than a
silver dollar – showing a mustachioed dandy saying, ‘I’m
for the Prairie Village fund drive.’ These sold like 50
dollars.

You hear some talk about how many hundred carloads of tourists
the project will draw, how many dollars each carload will spend and
how this will give the local economy and $11-million-a-year boost.
But mostly you hear talk about what a fine educational thing this
is and how it will preserve for our children a bit of their pioneer
past so they will appreciate how their forefathers made a blooming
garden of this raw, wild land.

Some 90 acres of the village site will be reserved for growing
grain to be bound and shocked to await the annual steam threshing
jamboree, this year scheduled for August 24-26. Here city kids will
get their first look at a team of horses (and maybe even oxen)
working. They’ll see steam engines chuffing and a very few
supremely lucky boys and girls will have the rare privilege of
shrieking, ‘Hold your horses!’ and yanking the whistle
cord.

A delegation to Sioux Falls, which with its 75,000 population
passes in South Dakota for a metropolis, found exciting support for
their project among metropolitan businessmen. These backed their
words with substantial checks.

A delegation to the state capital came away with Governor Nils
Boe’s blessing and his promise to turn a spade and say a word
at the June 4-5 groundbreaking. This planned as absolutely the most
gala event ever to hit the area: a balloon ascension, water show,
square dance, horse show, jet fly-by Indian Dance, musical events,
maybe even a buffalo herd.

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