'Like bringing Elvis back from the grave:' One of a kind Kerosene Annie at steam threshers reunion

The events at the Western Minnesota Stream Threshers Reunion are not only preserving history. This year, they are making it.

Rob Bearden and Clyde Hall drive Kerosene Annie in Rollag, Minnesota.
Ryan Longnecker / WDAY News

ROLLAG, Minn. — One item at the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion Friday, Sept. 2, may have seemed like just another old tractor, but it is anything but ordinary. In fact, it's the only one like it left in the world.

Kerosene Annie is the centerpiece at steam thresher's this weekend. People massed around it as it got running Friday.

Annie is a 1909 prototype. Kerosene was cheaper to run, back in the day, and it was left to rust in a junk pile, later to be restored for a place in a museum.

"It's just been sitting in a glass box as a static display," said Rob Bearden, curator of a collection of tractors located at Boise Idaho's JUMP facility .

A few weeks ago, the call went out asking who could get this museum piece up and running? Some of the best antique tractor experts from Canada and the United States gathered in Luke Steinberger's shop in Harwood, North Dakota.


Enter the Mount Rushmore of antique tractor repair guys.

"It is like a unicorn, and nobody really thought it would work, and then we got to thinking that there is no reason it shouldn't work," Bearden said.

Getting Kerosene Annie up and running was almost spiritual for Rollag.

"It's waking a sleeping beauty," said David Sunsdahl of Stephen, Minnesota, who helped get it running.

"It's kind of like bringing Elvis back from the grave, I'd say," said Kelly Tytlandsvik, who is from Saskatchewan, Canada, who also worked on the project.

"That first fire was pretty exciting for everybody," Bearden said.

The work paid off. A marathon repair and restore job got Kerosene Annie chugging its way this weekend up Steamer Hill.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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