Co-Chairman, 150 Years of J. I. Case Committee West. Minn.
Steam Threshers Reunion Rt 3, Box 58 Hawley, Minnesota 56549
The largest collection ever of J. I. Case farm machinery will be
assembled at the 1992 reunion of the Western Minnesota Steam
Threshers Reunion (WMSTR) at Rollag, Minnesota. This show will be
held over the Labor Day weekend-September 4-7. The special
exhibition commemorating the 150th anniversary of the founding of
the J.I. Case Company will appropriately be called ‘150 Years
of J. I. Case/WMSTR.’ All Case enthusiasts are invited to come
celebrate this special occasion.
The Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion was organized in
1954. Even at that very first show, it drew a crowd of about 3000
spectators. From the 20-acre field which it rented in 1954, the
organization has grown to a membership of more than 2500, owns a
200+ acre show grounds, and attracts a crowd of 50,000 to 80,000
people annually to its Labor Day weekend show. WMSTR has added a
variety of attractions in addition to its collection of over 30
steam engines, several hundred gas tractors, and other farm
machinery. A full-scale steam locomotive gives free rides on the
railroad surrounding the perimeter of the grounds, while a
scale-model railroad offers shorter rides. A large
‘Miniatureland’ features several scale steam engines,
threshers, gas tractors, and saw mills, some run by scale-model
engineers-in-training. A turn of the century farm has been built
where power for all the field work is provided all year long by
horses. A natural amphitheater provides a perfect place to sit,
rest, and watch the horse-drawn machinery complete the harvest.
Several large stationary steam and gas engines have been moved from
various towns in the Midwest to Rollag; they are used to pull a
generator, provide power to the blacksmith shop, and to grind
flour. An antique steam-powered merry-go-round provides free rides
to children of all ages. Demonstrations of pioneer living in the
homes, the shops, the one-room schoolhouse, and the church on the
small-town Main Street provide a taste of early farming
But, as at most steam shows, the main feature is the steam and
gas tractors which thresh, saw, plow, and do other field work in
addition to running in the morning and afternoon parades.
Why such a celebration in Rollag? It seems fitting that WMSTR
should feature Case. The Rollag area has a long standing tradition
with the J. I. Case line of farm machinery. The small town, with a
population of approximately 30, had had a J. I. Case dealership for
over 50 years. Norman Nelson, one of the founders of WMSTR, opened
the dealership in 1941- The business was next owned by his son,
Noel Nelson, and is now owned by his nephew, Laurence Aakre.
Laurence and Noel are co-chairing ‘The 150 Years of J. I. Case
Celebration’ at WMSTR.
Norman Nelson’s interest in Case machinery began early. In
1937 he purchased and eventually restored a 10 HP Case stationary
steam engine built in 1882. It is now owned by his daughter, Leanna
Freid of Virginia Beach, Virginia. The engine will be operating at
this year’s show.
At the original show in 1954, there were three Case steam
engines operating: Norman’s 20 HP, now owned by his son, Arlen;
a 50 HP and a 75 HP, formerly owned by the late Carl Johnson of
Lake Park, Minnesota and currently owned by the WMSTR. Since then
several Cases including two 80 HP engines and three 110 HP have
been added. For this year’s show we hope to show most of the
sizes of Case engines built.
The first Case gas tractor was displayed at the show in 1957, an
early model 1912 20-40 tractor purchased by Norman Nelson. This
tractor is now owned by his son, Noel Nelson. Since then, four more
late-model 20-40’s have joined our show.
One of the more rare Case gas tractors, a 1913 30-60 tractor
owned by Norman Pross of Luverne, North Dakota was brought to
Rollag in the mid-1960’s to be a permanent part of the
These tractors, along with several cross motors, including the
giant 40-72, the L, C, and R series, and numerous Flambeau Red and
Desert Sunset series, all owned by WMSTR members, will be running.
Our goal for the 1992 show is to have at least one model of every
series of gas tractor built by Case on display. Although we have
many of these tractors within our own membership, we are looking
for help from outside our organization to complete this lineup of
tractors and steam engines.
We now have several Case threshers on the grounds. Many more
will be brought in, ranging from a small 18′ to the giant 44 x
66. Several early Case combines, including the first Case combine
sold in North Dakota, will be on display at the 1992 show. These
will be complemented by the various machines from the 40s, 50s, and
60s. There will be many samples of other farm machinery from the
very old to the current high-tech Case-IH machinery.
A large collection of Case literature and memorabilia, as well
as an interesting display of Case toys, will also be exhibited.
WMSTR has set aside an extra 15 acres to display and demonstrate
this Case machinery. This is in addition to the already large
display area which will be left for other brands and types of
antique farm equipment. Threshing with steam, gas tractors, and
horses, sawing lumber with Case steam engines, and also cutting
corn with a silo filler will certainly bring back memories of days
past on the farm. Daily parades of the machinery, as well as
demonstrations of field work and plowing, including six or more 110
HP steam engines, all plowing at the same time, will round out the
A special invitation is extended to all Case enthusiasts to
visit our show. We also hope that some of you will bring your
exhibits, whether they be machinery, memorabilia, cars, or anything
else connected with Case. We’re especially looking for help
outside our membership in finding Case cars to exhibit. If you are
interested in displaying a Case automobile or other equipment,
please contact us at: 150 Years of J. I. Case/WMSTR, Route 3, Box
58, Rollag, MN 56549.
Although Rollag has no motels, there are four cities within 35
miles that have many hotels and motels-the twin cities of Fargo,
North Dakota, and Moorhead, Minnesota, as well as Detroit Lakes and
Fergus Falls, Minnesota. There is also room for well over 1000
campers located on the grounds.
For help with reservations or camping information, contact Ms.
Teri Anderson, 17355 County Rd. 2, Wal-cott, ND 58077.
We welcome all Case enthusiasts to our 1992 show, ‘150 Years
of J. I. Case/WMSTR.’ We promise a weekend filled with the
sights, sounds, and scents of our agricultural past in the J. I.