Monday, September 7, 2009

Steam in Rollag

Saturday I made the trek to Rollag with a friend for the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion. What an experience this turned out to be.

As you can see, this group is a firm believer in steam and had this 0-6-0 steamed up and hauling people all day. The cars that trail the 353 carry up to 500 people, and they were full much of the day. The engine puts on a great show.

WMSTR calls their railroad the "Railroad to Nowhere", as it has no connections to the outside world. There is a fair amount of rolling stock and MOW equipment on the site. I'm not sure how long the loop around the pond is, but it has to be over a mile. There are two stops for the train, and it serves a valuable purpose in helping people get from one part of the grounds to another.

The two shots above are taken near the east stop. The first one is a late afternoon shot as he is pulling away from a stop, and the second one is morning shot as the train approaches its stop.

And, it's not just a steam locomotive. There are a whole lot of steam tractors, along with some magnificent stationary steam engines. The vertical engine from the old Pabst brewery is three stories tall, and operates almost continually during the show. It's amazing to see, smell, feel, and hear these things in operation. Actually, by the end of the day, you can nearly taste them, too. The meatballs and ice cream and sweets kind of overpower the taste of the steamers, though.

The tractor above was one of my favorites, probably because of the similarity to a locomotive. The are all great, though, and when they have one hooked to the dyno to test horsepower you get not only a visual, but an audio show. The sharp crack of the exhaust of a steam engine under heavy load has to be experienced to be appreciated.

I posted these and a few more photos in a set on my photostream. If you are interested in old machinery, steam, gas engines (MASSIVE gas engines, up to 39,600 cubic inches-yes you are seeing that right), not to mention operating sawmills powered by steam, a steam powered flour mill, many threshing machines powered by horses, steam, or gas engine, other agricultural equipment, steam powered shovels and huge old caterpillars, Rollag on Labor Day weekend is the place to be. I know that I will be back in the future. It was wild.


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