Western Minnesota Steam Thresher's Reunion
I packed light: SPF 15 sunblock, Sony a68, Sigma 10-20mm zoom, Minolta 50mm prime, extra battery, extra memory card, earphones, water bottle, sunglasses, wet wipe, pencil and pad. I arrived in Rollag a little after 8 am. Parking is never a problem this early at the West Gate, but it can be difficult to locate your car later. I counted the rows, and made a mental note where I parked in relation to the only light pole.
My plan for the day is to focus on areas I missed last year starting with the Sandbox. At 8:19 am., I was at the #10 Ellingson Roundhouse on my way to the Sandbox. The crews were firing up the excavators. Darin invited me inside the Bucyrus-Erie 50-B Steam Shovel ('Mary Sue' Belleview Sand & Gravel, Petersburg, KY.) and explained all the controls.
"There are three things you need to know about running a steam boiler.. One. Check your water. Two. Check your water. Three. Check your water." Darin showed me the water gauge (by the pressure gauge) and the Tri-cock backup system, where you verify the water level. He showed me how to clean the lines. Darin was also banking the fire box with coal. They wouldn't be moving dirt until this afternoon. It would take that long for the boiler to build up pressure. Darin was the head boiler man. He was licensed in Minnesota and Federally for the US Railroad. He runs railroad engines, and electrical power plants. Darin was training a younger guy, and they were swapping stories. Darin was very interesting.
I returned to the Expo Building (#15). Steam Traction Engines were warming up. The coal smoke hung low to the ground. It looked like a post-apocalyptic wasteland. You could barely make out the sun! I found a seat on the south side of the parade route. (I was on the north side last year and although the 10 am sun is almost directly shining down the parade route, the south side is still better.) The sun was working for me. Sitting in the low bleachers; on the lowest level, no one is in front of me. I could get my camera right on the ground if I wanted to. I enjoyed seeing the Military Vehicles. Most (all?) of the military vehicles come from the [North Dakota Military Vehicle Collectors Association](https://www.facebook.com/ndmvca/) so I've seen about half of them. The parade lasted from 10 am. until 11:15 am.
At exactly noon, I found a quiet picnic table behind #34 the Log Cabin Museum, and had lunch. I wandered around the 'Main Street' on the boardwalk looking at the shops. Too bad the **Baker Mfg** hand pumps didn't actually work. (#51A Picnic Shelter). I wander down to the Pioneer Village and then to the Expo Area to photographing the Military Vehicles. Back to the Sandbox. I waited for the shovels to start digging dirt. I took some photos and movies.
I stopped at 'Just For Kids Bldg' (Location 05) to photograph the water display in the lake. After a rest in the Expo Building, I made another swing through the Expo Area to look at the Military Vehicles one last time; especially the M4 Sherman Tank. I've see enough for today. It's starting to get hot. 91°F at 3 pm. Wind: SW 13 mph.
This was the best day for weather but it not the best for events. No fashion show (It's weird but I like it.) The shovels took most of the day to get fired up. No horse power demonstrations this morning either. I wish I had taken more photos of the half-track; especially from the other side. I wish I rode the train more and walked less. I could have taken more notes. I didn't leave with much information on some of the parade tractors or military vehicles.
My biggest regret was a slow shutter speed during the parade. Somehow I let it fall too far. 1/100 should be fast enough, but I think the large equipment shakes the ground and requires 1/500 to keep the details sharp.
Category:Science and Technology
© Craig Maas