Advertise in Print | Subscriptions
Published September 02, 2011, 12:00 AM

It’s perfect in ‘Avery’ way

Threshers Reunion celebrates ‘bulldog’
ROLLAG, Minn. – It’s the year of the bulldog at the Western Minnesota Steam Thresher’s Reunion.

ROLLAG, Minn. – It’s the year of the bulldog at the Western Minnesota Steam Thresher’s Reunion.

The popular event, which celebrates the farming equipment and threshing operations of yesterday, will feature Avery Co. Steam Engines and New-Way gas engines this year.

The Avery is a rare, highly collectible machine with a trademark undermounted engine.

So-called because of the bulldog insignia on its smokestack, the Avery had something else in common with the pugnacious pooch: “The teeth in an Avery engine were so sharp they could chew up a two-by-four,” said WMSTR member Roger Engstrom.

The idea for the first Avery implement was hatched in a confederate prison during the Civil War. There, a captive Union soldier named R.H. Avery spent hours sketching a design for a corn planter in the sand.

After the war, Avery returned to his farm and began working on a prototype for the corn planter. In 1877, he and his brother C.M. Avery established a company bearing their names.

In time, their company produced many implements, including a yellow wood grain thresher, nicknamed the Yellow Fellow, and a corn picker so revolutionary one tractor expert predicted farmers wouldn’t buy because “it would put too many people out of work.”

In 1912, Avery produced a locomotive-style, double-under-mounted steam traction engine. But farmers began showing a preference for track-type tractors and combination combine-harvesters over the traditional steel-tire-wheel tractor and stationary thresher.

By 1923, the company went into bankruptcy and receivership.

Today, a large, premier-condition model 40-80 built from 1913 to 1920 can fetch more than $100,000 at auction.

There will be a couple of prime examples of Avery threshing machines at Rollag this year: a “Yellow Fellow” owned by WMSTR member Jim Briden and the “Yellow Kid,” on loan from the Dakota-Hawk Museum in Wolford, N.D.

But even if you’re not an Avery-man, there’s plenty to do. Other activities include threshing, plowing and lumber-sawing demonstrations, merry-go-round rides, two parades daily, horse-power demonstrations, tractor pulls, music and spark shows, “thresherman’s home-style meals,” pioneer ladies activities and a vintage style show.

Gearheads will also be able to check out miniature and full-size steam trains, steam shovels, stationary steam and gas engines and steam traction engines.

The event’s “pride and joy,” a full-size, steam-powered locomotive, will also run throughout the four-day celebration, ferrying passengers from one end of the show grounds to the other in a continuous loop.

This story contains information

from the Detroit Lakes (Minn.) Tribune,,

and Wikipedia.

If you go

- What: Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion

- When: Gates open at 6 a.m. today through Monday

- Where: WMSTR site, near Rollag

- Info: Daily pass, $12, primitive camping, $35, kids 14 and under, free. For more information, call (701) 212-2034 or go to

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tammy Swift at (701) 241-5525