Rollag: Preserving the power of steamby Marc Sanchez, Minnesota Public Radio
Rollag, Minn. — About 25 miles east of Moorhead, nestled between Highway 10 and Interstate 94, is the community of Rollag. The people who live and work in this community are crazy about one thing: steam.
The grounds celebrate life from the pioneer days through the mid-1900's. If you walk around, you'll most likely wander into one of the on site's campgrounds, which are filled with people sporting smiles. Working on tractors and other farm equipment may sound like work, but for the members of the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion, it's a fun way to stay connected to a bygone era.
Every Labor Day weekend since 1954, these steam engine enthusiasts have gathered here for one of the largest steam shows in the country. People from all over the world show up to reminisce, talk shop, and stand in awe of giant steam engines.There's a church and post office and even a live music stage that hosts square dances. There's even a locomotive that circles the 210 acre grounds.
You can get a first-hand look at tractors, diggers, boilers and the saw mill -- all of which are, of course, steam powered.
During the rest of the year, the community functions as a school and repair shop for these specialized machines. Rollag has been certified by the state to train and test steam engine operators to get their Minnesota hobby license.
Tim Dachtera just turned 32, and he's been a member since 1995. He started attending the events at Rollag with his grandfather. Listen as he describes some of the sounds you'll hear.