Montana was dry early in the summer, but then the rains came, and luckily things dried up enough for the second annual Teton Antique Steam and Gas Threshing Association show north of Dutton.
The event is held each year on the farm of Ove A. Larson, who has joined with friends and fellow engine owners to stage the show. Margaret and I visited Ove and his wife Sarah in advance, and were given an extensive tour of the grounds and buildings.
At the time we were there, much of Montana was suffering drought, and the farm outlook was indeed gloomy in many places. Over Larson's, skies were grey and there seemed to be an odor of smoke; he expressed the opinion that this was the result of forest fires in Canada. Larson himself was not pessimistic, but he recognized that conditions for many farmers were highly negative.
We telephoned him after the show, which was held September 14-15, and he reported that the weather picture had changed considerably, with so much rain that there were 9 inches in one week!
'It was pretty wet,' he said, 'but the sun came out both days. The weather cut the turnout-attendance was about 400, but we needed that moisture. The visitor coming the greatest distance was from Massachusetts. Utah, Minnesota and Washington State were also represented and of course we had a lot of local people.'
A newly completed blacksmith shop was open, and three blacksmiths were on hand. They made crowbars and tie bars, and Sarah received a triangle dinner bar. The blacksmiths were A. J. Gerard, of Scobey; and Dave and Babe Brandon, of Stevensville. (Yes, Mrs. Brandon is a blacksmith.)
Ove's property includes a former granary, which is now being outfitted for use as a museum. Exhibits already on hand include a cream separator, a washing machine and a wood range. The building is admirably suited for the purpose.
Sarah has a large ceramics shop. She produces and sells, and conducts classes for women of the area.
Ove, a dry land farmer, owns two steam engines, a 1910 60 HP Case, and 1912 60 HP Case. He also has a sawmill, set up by the club; a Moline one-way plow; a Red River Special and a Minneapolis.
On the day we visited, we also saw the collections of Bill Obernolte, of Choteau, and Ed Seven, of Power. Bill's engines include a 15-30 McCormick-Deering and a WK 40 Deering.
Bill Baughman, of Cutbank, brought in two nicely restored tractors for the show a 15-30 Rumely Oil Pull and a Waterloo Boy. Jack Kulish, of Standford, displayed a quarter-scale Case steam engine. A stationary steam boiler running an engine was on hand from Helena. People from Illinois displayed a stationary engine, and others from Missoula showed a 10 HP Stickney stationary engine.
The association was formed in January, 1984, after four prior shows on the Larson farm. Bill Obernolte is president; Larson is secretary-treasurer. Board members are Ed Seven, Rock Corey, of Choteau, and Charles Joslyn, of Choteau. Membership totals about 50.
With the note we received after the show, containing identification of our slides from Ove, was one from Sarah Larson. She mentioned that more displays would have been placed in the museum but, 'we couldn't get through the mud'. She stated: 'I was in charge of the kitchen again and also the gopher, coffee maker etc. We served B-B-Q on a bun and it went over so good I think we will keep the menu.'
The Larson's raise barley and wheat on 960 acres.