Menno Pioneer Heritage Association


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52341 875 Road Winnetoon, Nebraska 68789

On September 24, I loaded up my story-telling box and headed for Menno, South Dakota, crossed the new 12.4 million dollar bridge that is 2,953 feet long and crosses the Missouri River, saving me a bunch of miles compared to what it was before it was put in.

A movie company was there filming the Lewis and Clark expedition. They were loading supplies on their keelboat. This film will be shown later on at IMAX theaters. They had one lane of the bridge blocked where they had their cameras set up.

I could only be at Menno one day. My job there was telling stories of old times in a one room school, set up on the grounds. I didn't have a lot of time to look around, but what I saw was good.

The featured tractors and trucks were International Harvester, and there were a lot of them, plus gas engines. Special feature from the South Dakota Ag Museum was a 1915 8K Mogul, a one cylinder kerosene tractor very well restored. Also there were International trucks and one very special R-200, a 1953 in very good shape.

Also there were the usual gas engines and 'The Independent,' a 4 HP sideshaft. The man who owned it said he had to trade ten other engines to get it. Also on hand were a Worthington 1 HP; the Gade 1904 air-cooled; Domestic 4 HP; R&V 6 HP; my old buddy had his braiding machine with 32 spools, a New England powered by a 1 Associated.

I like to see gas engines belted up to something. That's why people owned them back in the old days. They had a purpose and they used them for that purpose.

In the steam line was an Avery 120 HP 24-ton 1912, a giant of a tractor; a Case 65 HP; and a stationary steam Case 36 HP.

The association's aim is to have a steam building in which there will be five operating steam engines. Thus far they have: a Murray Iron Works Corliss engine, built in 1907, which has as 12 foot flywheel and weighs 36,000 lbs.; an Eric Iron Works engine of 8,000 lbs.; a Skinner Iron Works steam electric generator of 12,000 lbs.; and a Kewanee high pressure boiler that will power the operating engines. Once done, it will be a rare thing for this part of the country. It would be done now except, guess what? Money! It's just that simple. As with all these good projects, it needs donations, and for some unknown reason there seems to be more millionaires in the city than in the country. With the stock market crashing that could change, but by the time this article is printed, it could have gone up.

Along with the engines were the threshing machines, Red River Special by Oliver Corporation, Advance Rumely, wood machine, saw mill, plowing, big plow for steam engines, and all the other things most threshing bees have, like a couple of wood windmills: a 1905 Duplex and a 1916 Dempster.

There were more tractors: Emerson-Brantingham Co. Big Four Tractor Works; John Deere 435 diesel, fairly rare; and a 1941 Wards Twin Row tractor, and there was a McCormick 120A cotton picker, which of course stands out like a sore thumb in corn and bean country, but gives people in the north a chance to see the equipment used in other parts of the country.

They have brought in old buildings, etc. from other areas. One was an old storefront from Olivet, South Dakota, a small town west of Menno. This has to be the most scenic, rustic little town I have ever seen, nestled on the James River. There had been a dam at one time, probably to run a mill, but the dam is broken down and makes a nice little waterfall. This river runs so slowly it shows no signs of bank cutting and all those things.

There must be a fair number of Russian and maybe German settlers in this general area, as they had brought in a Russian stove or oven. This was made of brick, and hauled on a trailer.

The last couple of years there was a gentleman who had a stone mill made in 1895, made by hand, if that is the right way to describe it. The stones were perpendicular. It was powered by a 14 HP 1906 Minneapolis engine. Then they took the flour and other ingredients and baked their bread in the Russian oven. It doesn't get any better than that!

Those people from Menno and surrounding area do a fine job with this show. It is growing into one of the best shows around.