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Sparta, IL

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Tuesday, September 29

We were in Charles City, Iowa, for Labor Day weekend. While we were there we attended a Thrashers Reunion at an active museum that specializes in steam engines. They had a number of working steam tractors that were used to power the threshers. The day we attended they were threshing oats, large sheaves of oats were hauled to the threshing machines on trailers or sleds and then put into the threshing machines by hand. Grain came out one end and the straw and chaff out the other. They also had a large number (over 200) of tractors dating from as far back as the early 1900s. In addition to the threshing machines, there were bailers that worked, some of which were stationary so the straw had to be put into the bailer by hand.

We were impressed with this operation because for years we have traveled the Dakotas and Montana where these threshing machines sit on hill tops along the road ways and are called prairie dinosaurs. To find some in working condition and actually get to see them working is great. We both grew up listening to our parents and grandparents stories of threshing and how much work it was. My estimate is that they had to handle the grain 6 or 7 times before the task was complete. This is compared to modern equipment where it is only handled once before it is in the truck. I would recommend this or other reunions of this type any time you happen to be in the area where one is occurring. The one in Charles City is held every Labor Day weekend.

The following week we went to Amana Colonies Iowa, a lovely collection of small villages started in the mid 1800’s by a religious sect from Germany. Until 1932 they operated the colony as a true commune. They have a huge RV Park there that can accommodate over 500 RV’s. The local economy is now based on farming, manufacturing (Amana Radar Range was made here), and tourism.

While in Amana we also made a side trip to the Amish area in south central Iowa. Kalona has a wonderful museum that takes visitors through the local history as well as a Mennonite museum that details some of the history of their religion.

The following week we moved to Mahomet Illinois. The main purpose of this stop was to spend some time with one of our nieces who lives in a small town about 40 miles south west of Mahomet. We had a wonderful time visiting their home and hosting them at our home on wheels. While we were in Mahomet we traveled to Springfield to visit the Lincoln home and museum. Both were enjoyable however we enjoyed the home, which is run by the National Park Service, the best.

This week finds us in Sparta Illinois at the World Shooting and Recreation Complex. They have a huge RV park here with over 1000 sites most of which are not occupied. This is a complex built to host large Trap and Skeet competitions. This is a great example of the things that can be done with an open pit coal mine when it plays out.

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