Tractors Steam Engines and More at Lakehead Harvest Show

58th Annual Show shows off farm machinery of yore.

ESKO, Minn.- If you think tractors are sexy, then you’ll fit right in at the Lakehead Harvest Reunion Steam and Tractor Show in Esko.

“You’re not gonna be able to take your 25 ton steam engine and drive it down Superior Street for a car show, y’know,” said Ryan Hansen, President of Lakehead Harvest.

For 58 years the show has brought tractors big and small, old fashioned vehicles and steam engines to the Nick Watry Farm in Esko.

“I’ve been here since the beginning, 58 years,” said Nick Blotti.

Blotti has been bringing his Minneapolis Steam Traction Engine to the show every year since he acquired it in the 1960s.

“I started with this engine when I was a kid, it was nothing but a ball of rust,” Blotti said. “It was owned by another gentleman, I was back in electrical school in those days and I helped him restore it.”

“And then a few years later I purchased it from him.”

The Minneapolis is an example of the steampowered industry of the 1800s,

“It was so well built back then that it’s still going,” said Hansen. “Y’know you’ve got things that have been running for 100 years that are still out here performing like they did 100 plus years ago.”

Back then these machines would perform a variety of agricultural tasks without the use of gasoline or electricity.

“This machine is run by wood and fire and boiling water and making steam,” Blotti said. “And today’s engines that produce this kind of horsepower they use diesels and gas engines.”

“A 200 horsepower diesel would do the same as this 50 horse engine’ll do, see?”

According to Hansen, many people come to make that comparison between then and now.

“You can look at some of these steam engines that led to the internal combustion engines that led to the car you’re driving today.”

The Lakehead Reunion has drawn all ages out to marvel at the machines.

“I kinda really like old machines and cars and tractors and stuff like that so it’s been pretty fun, yeah,” said Parker MacDonald, who’s been coming to the show for five years.

Meanwhile some of those now running the show, like Hansen, have grown up with it.

“I’m 34, this is my 34th show,” he said.

And some are even helping run the old vehicles in the parade at the end of the day.

“I got a granddaughter and grandson running this engine also and they’ve also taken their exam and had their state history boiler license so they can run the engine also,” said Blotti.

While Blotti’s grandkids can see owning one of these machines on the horizon, others just dream.

“I would wanna own one of these machines just to like, just own ’cause it’s like fun to look at,” MacDonald said.

“These are, like, parts of history that can be remembered for like, years and years to come.”

Carrying this country’s old traditions on to many generations to come.

“We like to enjoy sharing with the people and talking and of course showing this generation of old iron so everybody can see what they did to build this country when it started,” said Blotti.

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