2004 48th St. N.E. Rochester, Minnesota 55906
If I had a scrub board and homemade soap, I would do all our
laundry,’ Andrew told his mother. Then he added, ‘Except
when it’s below zero.’ Nine year-old Andrew had just
finished with his turn washing clothes. Nearby, four year old Ben
and ten-year-old Colleen took turns as they turned the handle on a
glass churn. It took them only ten minutes to turn heavy whipping
cream into butter. This wasn’t a new type of school. It was the
Mechanical History and Threshing Show at Rochester, Minnesota,
where there’s plenty for everyone to see and do. Other hands-on
experiences included shelling corn with a small hand shelter, and
then grinding corn into meal. When the children had finished their
‘chores,’ there was time for old-fashioned games.
The saw mill was a favorite attraction for the spectators
watching huge logs become usable lumber. Saw milling was hard work
for those who ran the mills in the early 1900s. However, for this
two day show, all the workers did it cheerfully. Modern-day gloves
and hearing protection certainly added to their comfort.
Gas engine buffs brought their prized engines. Some were being
used to depict how they were used on labor saving jobs in the early
part of the century. There were gas engines on washing machines,
corn shelters, and grinders. Of course, the rock crusher, water
pump, paddle elevator, and drag saw were also powered by gas
The blacksmith had one of the hottest jobs. It was also one of
the hottest attractions. He fashioned horseshoes from raw
A Parade of Power was held each day. The announcer told about
each tractor, truck, or car as it was driven past the reviewing
stand. The crowd was impressed with the restoration jobs some had
done. The parade included an antique road roller, as well as some
unusual homemade tractors.
Berry boxes made from bass wood were stapled on a unique
machine. The old-time machine did an excellent job of feeding the
wire. Soon the boxes were ready for berry picking.
Some people enjoyed going into the museum to see collections,
including items relating to the Mayo Clinic. The air-conditioned
building felt cool after being out where the men were harvesting
the oats, and plowing with an old tractor and gang plow. The grain
was cut with a vintage binder. There was also that awesome feat:
the threshing of the grain. Although threshing occurred throughout
the show, the grand finale was three threshing machines or
separators running simultaneously.
As the show came to a close, the tractor pullers went home with
trophies, each exhibitor had a plaque, the old-timers had been able
to reminisce, and the younger generation had received an
educational experience. Those of us who sponsored and put on the
show had worked together like one big happy family. After cleaning
up the grounds, there was only one thing to do; start planning next
year’s show. So, on July 27 and 28, 1996, we’ll have the
22nd annual Mechanical History and Threshing Show.