| July/August 1992

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 communities.

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.


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