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Feature Information

Return Flue - Credit: Mike Livdahl Do you have an exhibit you would like to display at our Great Minneapolis Line Expo? Labor Day Weekend 2016, we are looking to show tractors, equipment, and other displays representing Minneapolis Threshing Machine Company, Minneapolis Steel & Machinery Company/Twin City, Moline Plow Works, and Minneapolis Moline. We are excited to say this exposition will feature the largest collection of Minneapolis steam engines and tractors ever assembled since they left the factory in our very own home state of Minnesota.

Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion is very appreciative of our members and guests who bring pieces to feature at our expos. This year for the Great Minneapolis Line Expo, we would like to thank each of our exhibitors with a special gift! For those that pre-register by August 10th are guaranteed to receive a Minneapolis Moline, MTM, or Twin City glass stein mug with a wooden nickel for a free 1919 root beer float at the Sandbox Lunchbox. To register your exhibit(s) please contact the individual below in your category.

Steam - Minneapolis Threshing Machine Co.
Tom Dillon ~ 612-308-9560

Pre 1929 tractors and equipment (Minneapolis gas tractors, Minneapolis Steel & Machinery Co./ Twin City, Moline Plow)
Roger Haugen ~ 218-937-5215

Minneapolis Moline
Randy Bachmann ~ 757-814-4370 or
Monte Bachmann ~ 701-238-4274 or

A brief History of the Minneapolis Moline Company

The Minneapolis Moline Company has roots that go back to the 1800’s and to a different state. The Fond Du Lac Threshing Machine Company was founded in 1874 in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin. Just a short 3 years after the Fond Du Lac Threshing Machine Company was founded they were sold to John Stewart McDonald and renamed the McDonald Manufacturing Company.

One of the significant products manufactured by McDonald was the “Victory” vibrator type threshing machine. By 1880 the company employed 40 men including the Dutch machinist and designer, Paul Swenson who would become the most influential man at the Minneapolis Threshing Machine Company and the city of Hopkins, Minnesota. By 1886 the McDonald Manufacturing Company was in financial trouble and needed to expand their stagnant customer base.

In the early 1870’s a group of 74 Hennepin County (Minnesota) business men formed the Minneapolis Board Of Trade. Their primary interest was the development of county. In 1887 the Minneapolis Board Of Trade assisted in the incorporation of the following: The Minneapolis Threshing Machine Company, West Minneapolis Land and Improvement Corporation, and West Minneapolis Land Company. The Minneapolis Threshing Machine Company purchased the plant site on June, 6 1887 for $1.00.

At this time the land that the buildings were built on was known as West Minneapolis. Mr. Hopkins owned a large raspberry farm and was also the postmaster for West Minneapolis. With the building of the factory there was a need for a railroad depot in the town and Mr. Hopkins made a deal to sell the land if they would change the name of the town from West Minneapolis to Hopkins. He also made a deal to get free railroad service for himself and his family for the rest of their lives. It is rumored that in the coming years Mr. Hopkins would run a custom threshing outfit and the railroad would haul his engine and threshing machine between towns. This allowed him to save on driving time and helped him become very successful with his threshing business.

In 1887 there were 150 Victory threshing machines manufactured at the old McDonald Manufacturing plant in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin as the new plant was being built in West Minneapolis. By 1890, a new $30,000 plant was added and Minneapolis went into production with their return flue steam engines. There were 125 men were added to the workforce and 26 return flue engines were built their first year at the new plant in West Minneapolis.

1893 was a huge year for MTM when they had two steam engines and two Victory threshing machines at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. One engine and threshing machine was used in the outdoor demonstration area. The other engine and threshing machine was on the display floor and dolled up for the exposition. Minneapolis was awarded Gold Metals for their display at the exposition.

With the company’s great success in 1893, they added an additional boiler shop, a 40,000 square foot two story warehouse, and a new wood working shop. They now covered 20 acres with their plant and were making 4 separators and 2 return flue engines per day ranging from 10 horsepower to 30 horsepower! It was about this time that they were the largest employer in Hennepin County which included the city of Minneapolis. By 1902 Minneapolis released their first direct flue engine being a double cylinder twin stack. The company recalled these engines and effectively recovered from their dreadful design mistake and introduced the single cylinder direct flue in 1904. Minneapolis continued production of direct flue engines varying from 16 horsepower to 45 horsepower and the engines ranged from single to double engines and tandem compound to double tandem compound engines.

During the time that the Minneapolis Threshing Machine Company was in business they made over 30,000 threshing machines and 8735 steam engines. They built 4345 return flue engines and 4390 direct flue engines. They are known for using a lot of castings on their engines and their castings were of the highest quality.

In 1929 the following companies merged to become the Minneapolis Moline Power Implement Company:
  • Minneapolis Steel and Machinery (The Twin City Line)
  • Moline Implement Company (They Flying Dutchman Line)
  • Minneapolis Threshing Machine Company (The Great Minneapolis Line)

Labor Day weekend 2016, the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion (WMSTR), at Rollag, Minnesota, is hosting the Great Minneapolis Line Expo and the theme for the expo is “From Steam to Modern Machine.” The intent is to include all of the companies that went on to become the Minneapolis Moline Power Implement Company. WMSTR has the largest display of MTM steam engines of any show at their show on a regular basis, and this year there will be around 20 MTM steam engines at the expo. There will be the oldest operating engine, the last MTM engine built, the only operating tandem compound return flue engine, a double cylinder engine that was one of the original double smokestack engines, the largest engine MTM built and many more. There will also be a fine display of Twin City gas tractors, Minneapolis Moline tractors, a 14 HP return flue engine and a Victory threshing machine just like at the Columbian Exposition, and many, many more fine displays. This is intended to be an educational expo as well as an entertaining one. This should be one of the biggest and best collections of Minneapolis equipment ever brought together and you don’t want to miss it.