Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Memories of Bygone Years!

Lined up, ready to start the morning parade!
This was the 57th year of the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion at Rollag MN.  I can't believe that we've never gone before.  It was a wonderful day to attend.  Not too hot  (in the mid 60's) and with just enough breeze to move the air.  You'll see from my pictures that those steam engine of old really can pollute!  My pink sweatshirt had several streaks of soot on it by the end of the day.  No need to dress with good clothes  to go here.   It was so fun to see the big steam train engine pulling train cars  (we rode around the perimeter of the grounds in old cattle cars that had bleacher type seating for everyone). 
Then these big steam engines that were used to power the big belts when farmers would be threshing/combining the wheat in days of old. 

This event is on 200 acreas and the display now covers over 70 of those acreas and grows every year. Parking of our cars takes up a lot of space.  The volunteers helping did such a great job helping everyone find their way.  There are 6000 members that are from all over the US, and each year about 1500 help by volunteering during these busy 4 days.  Rollag here has the the largest display in the states, however, there is one in Iowa that has more attendance because they are closer to higher populated cities.    The gate fee was only $12.00 per person, with 15 and younger getting in free.  The only vendors there are church groups with food booths, and the association itself selling reunion gear, etc. to help raise money.  So once you get inside, it's free to ride the train and ride behind various tractors that pull wagons.  There is no cement streets, all dirt, so you don't get tired from walking on cement.  Each year a different tractor manufacturer is honored, with members bringing that brand of equipment to show.  My husband has International Harvester equipment, (red) and his equipment is old enough to be shown!  He still uses his two tractors even tho they are old.  His 504 IH diesel tractor is a 1971 model and he also has an IH 826 tractor, but I don't know the year on that one.  This year they were showing the Allis Chalmers  (they are orange).

Look at those back wheels.  Would hate to have them run over me!  They really dug into the ground.

There was a parade of these smaller tractors.  It was fun to see that this is a family affair - you saw both men and women driving.  I especially liked it when there were signs on the sides of the tractor stating the year made.   Not all exhibitors had signs.  Altho it looked like they were lined up by oldest to newest.

This is the gear system for turning the front wheel.  The gear controls two chains, one to each front wheel.  How someone figured out the engineering in building these big engines "blows" my mind!  Our ancestors were  resourceful people.  Tried until they succeeded. 

This one is from 1921.
There were coal burning, wood burning and then later models of gas and kerosene fired engines.  These big engines took two people to drive them.  One to steer, and the other to do the gears.

There was other farm equipment that was pulled by horses and tractors.  That equipment was in an area by itself that we walked through.  There were also other tractors in that area that had been refurbished. With new paint and looking spiffy new!  One fellow we talked too, had redone his fathers three old tractors, doing one each winter.  They were not for sale - when we asked.  He had done a wonderful job in redoing them.  Now he was going to rest this winter.  Bet he'll get another old one to redo.  He now has the "bug".  Just like any other hobby, like collecting old cars, etc.  It gets in your blood!
There were so many things to see.  An area that showed miniatures - with kids running them.  Love this picture!  His miniature was run with wood. 
There was a great area for kids, and there were a lot of families there.  I think before I'd bring kids for the day, I'd go without kids to see all the things that would probably bore little ones, then make another day to take kids. We then walked through several areas that had stationary engines.  Some had been used to pump water and others to huge belts for  industrial purposes.  There was even an old steam engine there to run generators, and one that powered a city years ago.  They were powered with coal, wood, diesel and kerosene.

Steve visiting with the ower of this Otto gas 16 HP engine.  This one was patented in 1886.  Just think, we have lawn mowers that have 16 hp engines, and they are not this big!  There was a building full of "Otto" engines.  I loved the rythematic sounds these engines made. 
We didn't see everything that was there, and likewise, I didn't show you all the different pictures of the big stationary engines and the parade of the big sooty coal fired engines.   If you ever get a chance to see an exhibit like this, I hope you'd go.  I just marval at the mechanical genius's that our forefathers were!  We'll be going back again next year, hopefully with Steve's brother and his wife. We didn't get to see the horse drawn exhibits or watch the threshing bee done with horses.  There is a village with a tolley car, and a saw mill.  I'm sure I don't even know everything that is there.
After our day there, we rested on Monday Labor Day.  Now we all have to get back into the routine of work, school, or me - whatever I want.  Just lovin retirement!


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this post. Sounds/looks like a great day just full of interesting and unique sights.

Country Whispers said...

Thanks for the walk back in history.
What a fun and educational day!

Cyndi said...

Jo, this is a fantastic post! I love history of our country and this is certainly a BIG part of that. It is all so interesting and you did a GREAT job of telling us all about it. Just wonderful!! Thanks so much for sharing!



Darcie said...

How VERY interesting. I know three guys in my house that would love to go see something like this! Very neat!

Growing Up A Country Girl said...

Great post and yes very interesting - wonderful event to honor our past.