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Exploring Rollag

This past weekend ended up being a look at area history for me as I visited the Wheels Across the Prairie Museum in Tracy on Friday, and Ross and I made a stop at the End-O-Line Museum in Currie on Sunday afternoon. Sandwiched in-between those days was the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion in Rollag.

When Ross suggested going to Rollag, I asked him “will I like it?” He’s more into these kinds of things. Then there’s traveling to the event as well. Rollag is about three or so hours away from Marshall, so it seems like a long, long time until you get there.

But life is a journey, isn’t it?

The drive there itself was uneventful with a stop for lunch at Hans House in Elbow Lake. We reached our destination a little bit after 2:15 p.m. As we’re driving toward the parking area, I noted the lineup of tractors and other farm equipment. And there were plenty of people. It looked like quite the event for an unincorporated community.

Rollag is northeast of Barnesville. The Steam Threshers Reunion takes place every Labor Day weekend, and it has since 1954, according to the event’s website. The website says there “more than you can see in a single day!” And we were going to try and make the most of the few hours we had left of daylight and activity.

According to the website (www.rollag.com), the Reunion features steam-powered items, gas engines, gas tractors, miniature and model engines, sawmills, the Main Street, horsepower and farmstead, a Pioneer Village, the Construction Area, blacksmiths and foundry, music, parades, a tractor pull, and threshing, plowing and fieldwork demonstrations.

Ross paid our admission and we strolled up the hill toward the train tracks. We had to briefly wait for a train to roll by. With the price of the event admission, people can ride the train, which does a circle of the grounds, or ride a wagon pulled by either horses or a tractor. When we hit the Main Street, which consisted of a post office, where you could buy and send postcards if you wish (just got the one I sent to myself on Thursday), a church, the general store, a mercantile, and the Ladies Activities building, where there were sewing, knitting and spinning demonstrations.

We hopped on the next train, which was leaving at 2:48 p.m. We clambered aboard one of the end cars and after the “all aboard” was heard, we slowly took off. The tractor parade was still going on as we chugged on by. The train ride was a way to see a good portion of the event. People on the grounds waved at us as we rolled on. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood. Ross made conversation with the man next to him (I think the guy was from the Dawson area, small world). The Reunion seems to bring in people from all over the place.

Once we got off the train, it was time to explore the area. We looked at displays, engines, historical exhibits, etc. Some of the engines are big enough to require their own building. There’s also an expo as part of the Reunion. This year’s expo featured J.I. Case equipment and implements. We saw quite a few of them on the event grounds; they’re neat to see.

Ice cream seemed to be the treat to have while at the Reunion as there were long lines at each spot that offered it. We waited patiently for a couple of cones (and they were reasonably priced).

Around 5:30 or so, I was feeling the effects of a long day and remembering that we still had a three-hour drive back to our neck of the woods. There’s only so many gas and steam powered engines a girl can handle. We took a little trip around the pond in horse-drawn wagon and after that we went back through the places we haven’t been, one being the Pioneer Village. Of course, by the time we got there, there wasn’t anything really going on anymore.

We stumbled upon the carousel, which was doing its last run of the day. It’s a steam-powered carousel from 1920. The calliope music floated in the air, but I figured we missed out on the chance for a ride. Luckily, one of the volunteers said we could get on as there was a spot open. Around and around we went. But it was a fun way to end our time in Rollag.

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