Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Return to Rollag

Last year I made my first ever trip to the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion just outside Rollag, MN. It was so much fun that I had to go back again this year, and it was worth the trip. While many of you were out chasing a very late Amtrak #8 on Saturday, I had a different passenger train in my viewfinder. I was after the former SOO Line 353, which serves as power for Rollag's "Railroad to Nowhere". It seemed to me that they had beefed up the consist of the train this year, with 5 passenger cars available to guests. I suspect that this train can carry more people at one time than the standard consist of the Empire Builder, albeit not in the same luxurious style.

It's not all about trains. There is an endless variety of steam engines, both mobile (tractors) and stationary. In addition, the gas engine fan would be entertained to no end by the hundreds of units of every conceivable size, from little engines that would run a wash machine to the giant 600 horsepower Snow engine that is 67 feet long and weighs in a 140 tons. Some examples of the equipment you see during a visit to Rollag:

We ate like kings, we toured the grounds and watched as the giant steam hammer from the old railroad shop in St. Paul did its thing, making the ground shake under a large crowd as it stamped out commemerative plates for the 2010 edition of the show. We saw threshing machines, sawmills, a flour mill, a couple of enormous steam powered electrical generators, a working foundry and machine shop, and actual STEAM rollers and STEAM shovels go through their paces. After walking until I thought my legs would fall off, it was time to head for home. Since one of the attendees from our party was staying at Rush Lake, we followed the scenic route through lake country. Wherever we crossed the CP I took a good look each way for any railroad action, and when we reached Dent, it paid off as I spotted red to my southeast. This called for a brief stop to shoot a SOO SD60 that was sitting in the siding, waiting for its call to work.

I'm already looking forward to next year.


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