All roads led to Rollag, Minnesota, again last fall where the
Western Minnesota Steam Threshers held their fourth annual Reunion,
a three day celebration, September 27, 28, and 29. Even the weather
became cooperative for this event: after weeks of rain and cloudy
skies, the sun came through and smiled pleasantly on the activities
on Threshermen’s Hill those days.
In many respects this was the biggest and best reunion we have
enjoyed here so far.
The immense gatherings each day spoke well for the fast growing
popularity of this organization.
More coal, more smoke, more steam and more power seemed to be
the by-word wherever you turned, with several newly rejuvenated
engines in the parade this year followed by a long line of gas
tractors of various ancient designs.
In going back into the history of Western Minnesota, we find
that the Rollag community holds its place as one of the cradles of
civilization where the immigrants from Norway and Sweden and the
American Yankees settled along the timberline country in the rugged
hills of eastern Clay County in the early seventies, where they
organized and built one of the first schools and churches in this
county. Both these institutions are still going strong and situated
within half a mile of the threshing grounds.
In organizing and promoting the Western Minnesota Steam
Threshers Reunion, Rollag has again pioneered and come into its
own, and with the help of our friends both in Minnesota and the
Dakotas, this is now an annual event that will be looked forward to
with greater anticipation from year to year.
First to register on the morning of September 27 was Christ
Christianson of Baker, Montana. On hand also was J. L. Stevens of
Marnard, South Dakota, who took on the job of feeding the hand feed
separator in operation there. Also present was Grice from Mankato,
Minnesota, Albert Hiemark from Cormorant, Minnesota, and T. A.
Paulson from Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, who displayed his model
steam engine and saw mill. These men are all in their eighties and
nineties, but still active threshermen.
Among the new attractions in the model display was N. B.
Nelson’s scale Advance engine and scale Case separator, doing a
very fine job of threshing oats; and a one-third scale Oil Pull
tractor built by Elmer Larson of Moorhead, Minnesota. This tractor
was used to power the model threshers and saw mill and is a very
fine piece of work. Elmer spent many hours in making this tractor
and has a right to be proud of his work.
Some heavy equipment was trucked in such as Stanley
Ellingson’s Avery undermounted from Christine, North Dakota;
Bill Danielson’s Reeves double simple 25 hp. from Rothsay,
Minnesota; Ted Thompson’s Advance 30 hp. from Hawley,
Minnesota; Carl Johnson of Lake Park, Minnesota trucked in two Case
steamers, Bill Fish of Watertown, South Dakota, trucked in a
Townsend tractor, Harold William of Ada, Minnesota, an Avery
tractor and George Melbye, of Ashby, Minnesota was there with his
seventy-five-year-old Doylestown hand feed separator. Besides these
there are 22 units locally owned and housed on the threshing
grounds. Ellsworth Grahn was there with his saw mill and got so
many logs he was busy sawing for many days. Bill Aitkins again
brought his Birdsell Clover Huller which stayed in the community
until after New Years, taking advantage of this remarkably nice
winter weather in threshing alfalfa and clover which was left after
a very wet fall.
Many model engines, saw mills, old cars and other relics were
brought in, some from great distances. Les Olson brought his scale
Case engine in from Mora, Minnesota. These together with the local
supply of model engines and separators, mostly made by our
Secretary, N. B. Nelson, made this a very fine display. There were
about 20 steam engines in operation, both big and small, but there
was no shortage of engineers, with at least two or three available
for each unit and enjoying a turn at the controls. To these men and
to all the others who helped with all the other jobs in preparing
for and in staging these shows; the officers and directors are most
grateful. To our ground manager and announcer, the genial Mr.
Clarence Bang, we give our sincere thanks. To the Ladies Aid of
Rollag, Gran, and Parke churches, for their successful efforts in
serving refreshments to these immense gatherings, we are most
One of the star features of this serving business is the Old
Fashioned Thresherman’s breakfast, served at the crack of dawn
and is now a must at these reunions. Many favorable comments one
these breakfasts were heard with people coming from local towns and
surroundings to enjoy this hearty meal. Plans are going forward for
our 1958 Reunion to be held September 26, 27, and 28, with added
attractions such as an evening entertainment with old time music,
quartette singing, and pageantry in keeping with our states
See you there.