John Horton purchased his first engine when he was 16 years old and, from that time on, always had a steam engine or two around. About 1955, he purchased an Advance Rumely from rural Stoughton threshing ring. The engine had been parked after the last man able to operate it passed away. August Handtke, his neighbor, remarked,
“Before I die, I’d like to see threshing done the old way.”
Horton, his son Jack and his neighbor August Handtke repaired the engine and decided to run it for threshing that year. They invited the public as well as local television and newsreel cameras to show up on the afternoon of Friday, July 27, 1956. About 100 spectators came, including reporters from the Edgerton Reporter, Janesville Gazette, Wisconsin State Journal and other newspapers.
In 1958 and 1959, the show was basically a fundraiser for the local Fulton Church. In 1960, the church turned the show over to the steam enthusiasts and the show was moved to American Legion Park in Edgerton. That same year, the club reorganized as Rock River Thresheree, Inc., and we held our first election of officers. 1961 marked our first land purchase (part of our present Threshermen’s Park). We were granted non-profit status in 1965.
Our park is staffed by members and volunteers. Our members donate thousands of hours a year to maintain and update our park. We are a Non Profit 501(c) (3) organization. All proceeds are used to improve the facility. Donations to the Rock River Thresheree are tax deductible.