Seth Johnson/Daily Journal: The above locomotive was built in France and used in both world wars before it was purchased by Milton Martinson, the father of Larry, left, and grandfather of Andrew.

Archived Story

From France to Dalton

Published 10:53am Thursday, September 6, 2012 Updated 10:53am Thursday, September 6, 2012

It took troops to the Battle of the Bulge, sustained multiple gun shots and was even captured by the Germans, but this weekend, the same locomotive that has been involved in historic battles will pull visitors around a track at the Dalton Threshing Show.

Milton Martinson purchased the locomotive in 1972 and donated it to the Thresherman’s Association in the late 1990s, said Milton’s son, Larry.

“He always thought the association should have a locomotive,” Larry said.

The locomotive was built in France in the early 1900s, and although its original purpose is unknown today, local legend has it that it was used in World War I and World War II.

Stories have been passed down from previous generations that it was used to transport solders to and from historic battles including the Battle of the Bulge. The only evidence that remains are several bullet holes that have been patched.

“It’s such an interesting historical artifact,” said Larry’s son Andrew. “It makes me think if it could talk, all of the interesting stories it could tell.”

Its narrow gauge track and light weight made the locomotive appealing for military use because the tracks could be moved when needed.

“I think it’s interesting because it’s a part of the past, but not just the historical past but our family’s past as well,” Larry said.

The locomotive is steam powered, which means each time it runs the operator needs to start a fire and wait for the water to heat up. This often takes more than a half hour, Larry said.

“It’s not instant power, but it’s good power,” he said. “It’s silent and there’s a lot more power there than you think.”

The locomotive is still running today, and visitors to the Dalton Threshing Show can enjoy train rides from the old machine.

“It’s nice to bring something here that a lot of people will appreciate,” Larry said.

The show begins Friday and will continue through Sunday. This year’s featured equipment will be Minneapolis-Moline, and events throughout the weekend will include entertainment by the Knudtson family, the Parade of Giants, an antique car and truck parade, entertainment by the Haining family, chainsaw carving and a Sunday morning community church service.

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