Time Out From Gas Engines


| September/October 1991



85-year-old part of  heritage

Sec, Steams County Pioneer Club, Inc., Box 482, Albany, Minnesota 56307

Engine and old iron enthusiasts take time out to preserve a different piece of history!!! Every once in a while (once in a great while!!) something comes up that requires even the most dedicated antique equipment restorer to ignore the old iron and help with an entirely different kind of project. This happened in August of 1989 to some of the members of the Stearns County Pioneer Club of Albany, Minnesota. Dedicated to preserving our heritage in all forms, these members received word of an old church whose parish was being dissolved. The church itself would be vacated and could be torn down or whatever.

The members of the Pioneer Club just couldn't bear the thought of having this 85-year-old part of our heritage destroyed or left standing vacant and a sure target for vandals. This building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. So the club bought the church and decided to move it to their showgrounds to preserve it. Moving any building is a task, and if that building is 54 feet wide and 96 feet long and weighs about 280 tons, it gets to be a big and EXPENSIVE task.

So a big fund-raising drive was launched to see if the $35,000 in moving costs, wire cutting, etc., could be raised because, as with most nonprofit organizations, there was no surplus in the club's bank account. The fund drive started in August, and by mid-October enough donations and pledges were gathered to give the project the go-ahead.

Club members took inventory and began removing many of the smaller artifacts from the church as it was prepared for its journey to their showgrounds. In November, the building movers' crew started the process of punching holes in the old rock foundation so they could get their long metal beams under the building. In one week it was jacked up and ready to move.

December 12 was the day picked for the actual move. The snows stayed away, so the roads were clear. It was very cold with temps a few degrees below zero that morning, but the movers decided to go. (They debated because the iron beams, etc. get really brittle in the extreme cold and the risk of breaking things is much greater!!) So, at 9 a.m. that cold December 12, 1989 morning, the church started its eight-mile journey to the Pioneer Club Showgrounds which was to be its new home. Pioneer Club members needed to go ahead of the building and take down all highway signs, etc., because the church was so wide. Another crew followed behind and put them up again. The power companies had to cut over 30 wires to permit the church with its high steeple to pass. At 3:30 p.m., 61/2 hours later, the church had reached the club grounds. It took almost two more days to get the building pulled in place across the hole that had been dug for the basement. The weather stayed below zero and the movers did snap off one of their big booms as they were pulling the church into place.