Menno Pioneer Power Show


| February/March 1999

Rt. 1, Box 21 Winnetoon, Nebraska 68789

On September 26, I loaded up my Rock Island gas engine, grinder, and air machine (homemade) and headed for Menno, South Dakota. I crossed the new 12.4 million dollar bridge that crosses the Missouri River, and is 2,953 feet long, a cement masterpiece, but it doesn't go anywhere!

However, it saved me a bunch of miles, as I would have had to go a considerable distance farther if it weren't for this bridge. The show I arrived at was the 12th annual Steam Gas and Toy Show at Menno, South Dakota. Special features this year were the Hart-Parr and Oliver tractors and Stickney gas engines. Boy, those Stickneys stand out blue and more blue, 1? HP, 3 HP, 5 HP, 7 HP, and a big 10 HP. Most of these engines had steel running gears. A lot of other fine engines were well displayed, but no John Deeres, which is very unusual.

A very rare 5 HP Semm gas engine manufactured right here in South Dakota, at Mitchell, seems to be the only one in running condition. And next to me was a man with a 'Woodwasher' washing machine made in Newton, Iowa, by a man who had broken away from Maytag and started his own plant. This machine was in excellent shape. On the sawmill was a 36 HP 1911 Case stationery steam engine without wheels, and that does look different.

Remember, South Dakota was a big wheat-growing state for years, with lots of threshing. I remember trains loaded with wheat coming down from Winner, South Dakota, coming into Nebraska on their way to the mills. They had lots of trouble coming off the Verdigre bottom trying to get up the valley to Winnetoon, Nebraska. The grade was so steep and once in a while the steam engine would spin out, and then it was back down and unhook some cars. There were several fine wood threshing machines, an Avery 36-inch, also several metal machines. Alongside these was a very fine eight bottom John Deere plow with a lever for each share, also a Worthington five-cylinder, four-cycle diesel-which starts with compressed air. This engine is so big they pull the building over the engine.

There was a big giant sitting out there, a 120 HP Avery steam engine tractor, built in 1912 that weighs 24 tons. It had been used by Ringling Bros to break ground in Montana to grow alfalfa hay for their circus animals. They could bale this alfalfa and send it on to where they needed it. This tractor was a puller. It pulled 14-16 bottoms on virgin sod. That was a load. It is so big it scares you!

The featured tractor was a Hart Parr Old Reliable 30-60 HP. It ran good the first day and was in the parade, but the next day it started acting up. If you have ever seen a big tractor start missing, etc it is some sight and sound! Everybody gathers around, and maybe if you're smart you go off and leave it, and come back later, so it isn't so embarrassing.

I want to talk about the grounds and buildings on the grounds. It lies right against Menno easy access and close to town. It was an old farm. It had a very big barn which was converted into display and eating space.

The big hay mow with direct access from outside, with no ladder to climb, makes it easy for handicapped and older persons. Right inside the door was a rare Rumely cream separator. That one got me, but every show has a few of these items. The hay mow was a display area for toys, etc.

They had an old red schoolhouse, depot, log cabin, and a fine old church upon a hill which you get to by crossing a small dry creek by an old Pin-Trust steel bridge. They were very popular years ago, and this particular bridge is braced differently than most bridges. It was donated by the South Dakota road department.

In the Thirties, we had lots of grasshoppers in the Midwest. Here they have an old machine that mixes hopper bait, banana oil, bran and poison and runs with an electric motor. I still have a few gunny-sacks that the bait was put in.

There was a gentleman who had a stone-grinder. The stones were perpendicular and he used it to grind wheat for flour. It was a stationary stone and another rotating, doing a very fine job, powered by a Fairbanks-Morse. The grinder was homemade.

On the first evening they served the exhibitors a very fine meal. Those ladies in South Dakota know how to cook. The next morning there were pancakes and sausages. They weren't bad, and these were served by men at the stove.

So, it looks like next year we will head across Missouri River and take part in one of the fastest growing shows in the Tri-State area.


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