Created By: Digital History Course
Bonanzaville: Technological Innovations of the 20th Century Tour
Teaser: The Eagles Air Museum, Eugene Dahl Car Museum, Moum Agricultural Building, and Melroe Tractor Building highlight the marvels of machinery from the 20th century. This tour is perfect for people interested in cars, planes, agricultural equipment, law enforcement vehicles, and military memorabilia!
Eugene Dahl Car Museum
The Eugene Dahl Car Museum encapsulates change within the automobile industry both locally and nationwide. Many of the vehicles were donated by Eugene Dahl and Lester Melroe and were originally housed in the Paul Hemp Automobile Museum in Rochester, Minnesota.
Important early vehicles include the 1908 Brush Runabout, a competitor to Ford's 1908 Model T. The wooden parts of The Runabout were subject to weathering. This along with the high cost, and unique, and therefore hard to maintain, design of the 1908 Brush Runabout eventually led to the downfall of the Brush company. The 1908 Brush Runabout could not compete with the 1908 Ford Model T, which was more affordable, user friendly, and released for a mass market.
Also included are the beginnings of luxury brands that we know well today. Included in Bonanzaville's collection of over sixty vehicles are early Jaguar and Rolls Royce models. These early luxury vehicles are displayed in The Eugene Dahl Car Museum alongside their household name counterparts which include Chevrolet, Dodge, and Ford counterparts dating back to the early 1900s.
The car museum also showcases historical vehicles from the Fargo-Moorhead area, including an array of Fargo emergency vehicles from the 1900s, such as the one pictured here.
Melroe Tractor Building
The Melroe Tractor Building houses the rich history of 20th century American agricultural innovation. It features many manufacturers including Case, Hart-Parr, Rumley and Allis Chalmers. Many models have original steam engines, including two of the earliest steam engines built by Case.
The Melroe Tractor Building houses innovative brands of tractors of the early 20th century. Included are tractors produced by the Hart-Parr Corportation, sporting heavy flywheels dating back to as early as 1907. The Melroe Tractor Building also displays tractors by The M. Rumley Company, a producer of the first oil pull tractor that ran on kerosene. Some of the other tractors on display include the Fordson model by Henry Ford, McCormic Deering models accompanied by and its successor company International Harvester, and Olivers and Co-ops, pictured here.
Moum Agricultural Building
Early agricultural technology as well as more recent inventions are housed in this building. If you are interested in the early history of farming in North Dakota, be sure to check out the “Bonanza Farming” tour for more information of farming equipment of the 19th century housed in the Moum Agricultural Building.
Farm machinery featured includes threshing machines, plows, seeders, and diesel-driven tractors from the 20th century. A highlight of this collection are the Steiger tractors, invented by John Steiger and his sons Douglass and Maurice of Red Lake Falls, MN. Included in the Steiger line is a bulldozer that was once the largest in the world.
The Moum Agricultural Building also houses Bonanzaville’s Bobcat Machinery collection, containing many first edition models of Bobcat machinery, along with the Melroe machinery that predated the Bobcat branding.
The Eagles Air Museum
The Eagles Air Museum exhibits a collection of over a dozen aircraft and aircraft related artifacts, as well as other vehicles and is a must-see for any flight enthusiast.
One of the highlights of the museum is a Douglas C-47, pictured here. The plane also known as the “Minnie H” or “The Governor's Plane” was used in World War II during the D-Day Invasion and was later used as North Dakota's official flagship, transporting four past governors. The Douglas C-47 gives an unique experience by allowing visitors to walk up the gangway and sit in the cockpit (phrasing?). There are twenty aircraft on display, ranging from smaller gliders to large jet planes. dating from 1911 to 1980s (this could maybe be included in the first sentence, I wasn't sure how to get this to fit).
The oldest aircraft in The Eagles Air Museum is the 1911 Curtiss Pusher. In 1911 "Lucky Bob" St. Henry of Minot, ND, made the first successful flight in North Dakota in this plane, seven years after the Wright brothers' first flight in 1903.
The Eagles Air Museum houses a collection of aircraft built and restored by Charles David Klessig, a pilot native to Page, North Dakota who was a pilot during World War II. Klessig was an important contributor to local history and authored a book about his life of flying titled, "My Highway in the Sky", available for purchase in the Bonanzaville gift shop.