P.O. Box 447 Maple Plain, MN 55359
Deep in the white pine country, we were driving along a
black-topped road and turned off as directed by the arrow pointing
down a numbered gravel road. We were looking expectantly at small
open fields interspersed among densely wooded areas with an
occasional rutted road which permitted a view of a clearing
containing a house and some out-buildings. Here there was a house
closer to the road but sheltered by large trees that served to
screen it from our scrutiny.
It was quiet, peaceful, and we drove along, more slowly, hoping
for a glimpse of shy forest creatures. Surely this could not be the
place for the great gathering. But then we heard, ‘Wheet,
wheet.’ It could only be a steam whistle!
We slowed the car almost to a stop and from a distance came the
muffled, ‘Chug, chug, chug, pop chug, chug, chug, pop,’ of
some gas engines and then the high pitched whine of a saw biting
deep into a log. Our excitement mounted! What a setting for a
reunion of pioneer equipment buffs! Then another arrow directed us
down another graveled road beyond which was a green clearing dotted
with trailers, campers, RV’s and tents.
The sound grew louder, clearer, a symphony of stakes being
driven, tractors snorting, men calling directions or greetings,
kids shouting, and women searching out neighbors or organizing
their households for the enjoyment of the simple life in the
‘One, two, three, can you hear me over there?’
Someone was testing the public address system. Ticket takers
were greeting new arrivals, giving out buttons and ribbons to
identify exhibitors and workers, and directing the parking. The
information booth on the crest of the hill was manned by several
busy people. Delicious odors from a building back under the trees
were wafted by a gentle breeze. Scattered around in the shade near
the buildings were picnic tables, trash barrels, and a raised
platform that indicated some special entertainment was in
Now we could see buildings scattered around the perimeter of the
huge amphitheater which was a beehive of activity. Displays of
small engines and large were being set up with equipment to
demonstrate their uses. Tractors were being lined up, one was
pulling a farm wagon with passengers of all ages hitching rides.
Steam engines were moving around slowly, with great dignity, like
In a green clearing off to the right, more trailers ringed the
aperture and tables were being set up under the shade of bright
awnings. A flea market! More goodies to browse among for
Here, once each year, steam and gas engine buffs from all across
America and beyond, gather to display, operate, and admire
collections of tractors and engines no longer needed by the age of
the atom. Talk about nostalgia! Tall tales of the great giants of
the past and their feats of heroic proportions played in the
development of this country are told here.
The Langenbach family, collectors of engines and memorabilia of
the past, are creating a working museum. Here you do not view these
relics of the past and wonder what they were used for. You see
lumber being sawed, lathes and shingles being made, spindles being
turned, water pumped, clothes washed, grain being threshed and
ground. Here you see them being used as they were a few decades ago
or even a century ago. The ring of blacksmith’s hammers play a
simple melody as three men ply their trade in the blacksmith shop
near the lathe and shingle mills.
A gregarious family, they invite other collectors and
enthusiasts to join them and display and operate their mementos of
the past, or to just browse and recall memories of similar
equipment they had seen or used.
The Langenbachs are slowly bringing back times of local
historical interest such as a Fairbanks Morse unit that pumped
water for the town of Brownton, and another Fairbanks Morse that
generated electricity at Itasca State Park.
The most recent acquisition is an 84 ton, 150 HP Norberg steam
engine originally built for the city of Fairmont, Minnesota between
1901 and 1907 to produce power for the town. The Langenbachs
brought it back home to Minnesota from Wakefield, Michigan where it
was owned and used by the Connor Lumber Co.
This Labor Day weekend of 1986 will find the White Pine Steam
and Threshing Show putting on its 8th annual exhibition. It has
grown from the first show of 2 steam engines, 8 tractors and less
than 100 gas engines. They now have 12 permanent buildings (with
more planned), 5 steam engines, 75 tractors and 250 gas engines,
plus exhibits of old tools, toys, and related items.
If you would like to spend a memorable day, or two, or three
away from life in the fast lane, plan to join fellow enthusiasts
among the fragrant pines for a taste of life as it was in the
‘good old days.’ You will find it just 2 miles from
McGrath, Minnesota, on Highway #65, or 28 miles north of Mora, also
on Highway #65. There will be signs from the White Pine Logging and
Threshing Show to guide you the rest of the way.