Finding Minnesota: Recreating History Through Horsepower At Heritage Hill

MONTEVIDEO, Minn. (WCCO) — During Minnesota summers, threshing shows across the state bring farm history to life.

In this week’s Finding Minnesota, John Lauritsen takes us to Heritage Hill near Montevideo, where the old farming ways are new once again.

Drive through western Minnesota and you’ll know right away you’re in the heartland. Here, corn isn’t just knee high by the Fourth of July, it’s growing past your shoulders.

“You can’t take the farming out of the boy. It just stays with you no matter how old you get,” said Wes Thompson, a retired farmer.

Thompson isn’t the only one that feels that way. About 40 years ago a group of people got together near Montevideo and put on a threshing show at a family farm. Like a seedling, it started out pretty small but quickly grew.

“It started on one little piece of ground … Then it got a little bigger and a little bigger and it grew into this,” said farmer Patty Kurtzbein.

“This,” is called Heritage Hill. Now, 35 acres of land where every year old farm ways get a fresh look.

heritage hill Finding Minnesota: Recreating History Through Horsepower At Heritage Hill

(credit: CBS)

From classic cars, to an old chapel, to a school house that Laura Ingalls Wilder would be proud of. But it’s the sights and sounds that truly make this place special.

It’s where stories are told in years.

And history is recreated through horsepower.

The vintage machinery is one thing. The people are another.

“I started farming with that G John Deere. I paid $300 for it and I still have it,” said Dennis Harguth.

Harguth is the mayor, fire chief and constable of tiny Gluek, Minnesota. He once left farm life as a young man and moved to California.

“I realized how good it was on the farm so I come back and started farming,” Harguth said.

And he has the proof. He’s the owner of vintage John Deere tractors on display at Heritage Hill. It’s just a fraction of his collection. He’s gone as far as Galveston, Texas to buy them.

heritage hill 3 Finding Minnesota: Recreating History Through Horsepower At Heritage Hill

(credit: CBS)

“I store them in about eight sheds. This is definitely not all of them I’ll tell you,” said Harguth.

During the third week of August, Harguth and about 250 other members of the group put their love for the nostalgic on display.

There are tractor pulls and parades. The idea is to appeal to everyone. From age 5 to 95.

“It’s just all the different showings and all the events that go on have really grown up with me and I’ve really enjoyed it,” said Katelynne Ashling, the Threshing Queen.

Saving the past for the future. Heritage Hill shows that sometimes it really does take a village.

“I think coming out here working together as a group of people is as important as anything. Because fellowship is still number one in my book,” said Thompson.

heritage hill 2 Finding Minnesota: Recreating History Through Horsepower At Heritage Hill

(credit: CBS)

This year’s Heritage Hill Threshing Show will begin Aug. 18.

They’ll have a tractor drive, auction and dance — just like the old days.

More from John Lauritsen
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