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Lake Region Pioneer Threshermen Association and Bonanzaville USA 6/2/2017

by Chris Guenzler

We left Rollag and headed to Dalton for our next event of the morning.

History of Lake Region Pioneer Threshing Association

When the first threshing machine was invented, it was considered the greatest labor saver for threshing grain. Horses and steam engines that powered threshing machines were replaced in the 1930's with "modern day" tractors and combines were beginning to appear. In the summer of 1954, three men from the Dalton, MN area gathered together with a dream of doing their own "threshing bee."

George Melby, with the help of brother, Ralph Melby, and their nephew, Kenneth Bratvold, began on October 8, 1954, with six stacks of grain using George's Minnepolis separator (with wing feeders and powered by steam). Although not advertised, over 500 people came to observe the event on George's 10 acre field. It has been an annual event ever since. In 1960 it was moved to the present site on 40 acres of leased land on the southeast side of Dalton. Eventually the "Thresher's Club" grew in members and equipment. In 1973 they purchased the land. Over the years, buildings have been added to the grounds - some moved in and others built by dozens of volunteers. Many of the buildings are used for storage as well as displays and functions during the yearly event. The focus is to bring back some of the ways of life of the pioneers that settled in the area, and also an appreciation for our heritage.

Our Visit

We pulled into the parking lot and were met by Bill Swanson and his train crew, whom I thanked them for having us here today. I walked over to shoot my first three pictures at Dalton.

F. Albert Bau 0-4-0T No. 2, built in 1914 by Decauville in Neukirchen, Germany; the reason we visited here.

The Great Northern Dalton station built in 1893.

The inside of the station. I was then interviewed by three members of the press after whichBart and Sarah Jennings arrived, as did Steve Mitchell of Yard Goat Videos.

The train came out of the engine house spur and backed into the station.

The engineer and fireman for our trip today.

The engine house.

The water tower. Now let's take a couple of loops on this railroad.

This was one loop of the railroad. We made a second trip and after that Bart and I talked to our crew about two more trips so we could get photos from the ground. Bart went east and I went west and after the first trip, we switched locations.

The inside of the engine house with two more passenger cars.

The first photo runby. We moved towards the other location but shot the train on the east loop.

The rest of the first runby. Bill and I moved to where Bart had been and took our pictures while Steve shot his video.

The second photo runby. Bart and I were then invited for a cab ride which we did.

Me and a member of the train crew.

Bart and the engine crew. A special thank you to the entire History of Lake Region Pioneer Threshing Association train crew for making our morning so special for us in Dalton. You all did an outstanding job.

We departed Dalton and headed to Leonard to start our chase of the Milwaukee Road 261 afternoon trip to Lisbon from Davenport. After an excellent chase we then headed to West Fargo and our next stop of the trip.

Bonanzaville in West Fargo 6/2/2017

We parked and I checked in with the staff then went outside to look around.

Northern Pacific 4-4-0 684 built by New York Locomotive Works in 1883. Given the shop number 39, on September 10, 1883, two days after the Northern Pacific Railroad was completed, the engine arrived at St. Paul and was renumbered NP 684. Apparently slated to be scrapped in 1925, 684 was towed to Livingston but was then overhauled and sold to the Nez Perce & Idaho Railroad in 1928, where it was renumbered 4. The NP&I had only one locomotive and thirteen miles of track between Craigmont and Nez Perce, Idaho, and apparently, the engine could often only handle two cars at a time because of the steep grade. By 1945, the NP&I needed an engine that could haul heavier loads and 4 was pushed off a spur of the NP&I tracks and abandoned in a field near Nez Perce. 684 was donated to the Cass County Historical Society in 1974. The present museum building was constructed in 1972 on land donated by the Red River Valley Fair, and the name "Bonanzaville" refers to the large Bonanza farms that once existed in the Red River Valley.

The Northern Pacific Embden station built in 1900.

The self tour stamp on the station.

Museum scene.

Northern Pacific coach 1380 built by Pullman.

Northern Pacific wedge snowplow built in 1907.

Northern Pacific caboose 1628.

Two more views Northern Pacific 4-4-0 684.

Other items in this building.

Bonanzaville water tower.

Now we will see the Bonanzaville Central Railroad in this building.

The Bonanzaville Central Railroad model railroad.

A Bonanzaville scene.

One last view of the Northern Pacific 4-4-0 684. The next stop was in Davenport for our train ride this late afternoon.