“Ladies of Steam” Bringing New Generation of Threshers Into History
They started their organization back in 2015
ROLLAG, Minn. — By stepping onto the grounds of the Western Minnesota Threshers Reunion, you take a trip back in time.
While there may be a lot of history in this old farm equipment, it doesn’t mean there aren’t new milestones being celebrated.
Steam threshers may seem impossible to navigate but looks can be deceiving.
“Steam engines are really, simply complex. You start a fire, you boil some water, you make some steam and then you can run a saw mill, you can plow a field, you can thresh, you can do all these things and you can seeing all these moving parts happen and I think that’s the beauty of the engines,” said Jen Roth.
It’s a beauty both Roth and her co–pilot Nicole Wallace have appreciated ever since they were bit by the “steam bug.”
“When I first started, it was like wow, I can’t get enough of this. How can I be more involved? How can I run with other people running these engines?” Wallace said.
Back in the day, it was rare to ever see a woman behind the wheel of one of these steam engines.
“Women were involved but they were involved in a different aspect. Their jobs were mainly with the cooking and providing meals for the threshing men,” Wallace said. “I have stories of my family where the women provide the meals and they’d need to get up and load bundles.”
Fast forward to 2018 and these Ladies of Steam are teaching other women and even children from Minnesota to England to fall in love with their hobby.
“I like that there’s the momentum there for this, for having women more visible and featuring the women that are involved. We’re out there,” Roth said.
These best friends are putting the momentum to use and they’re driving a powerhouse of a machine with an even stronger name.
“The Mighty 28. This is a Mighty 28 1916 28 Horsepower Minneapolis Engine purchased in North Dakota run by a family on their family farm,” Roth said.
It’s all meant to keep the history alive, no matter the gender of the driver.
“These are old engines. It takes future generations, it takes families and that’s what it’s going to need to keep it moving forward and to keep these things moving,” Roth said.
Since the Ladies of Steam started their organization in 2015, more than 7,000 women have gotten involved.
Next week, Roth and Wallace will be at a steam show in Andover to show more people what it’s like to drive a steam thresher.