Dedication set for Aug. 19
R. I. Anderson, a Swedish immigrant, started his machine shop in downtown Iola in 1914 as a garage and battery service station.
It eventually transitioned in 1930 into the R.I. Anderson Machine Shop.
In the 1930s and through the 1950s, Anderson evolved into a noted fire-truck builder and parts producer for firefighting equipment.
In 1942, he built his first firetruck for the Iola Fire Department, which had its firehouse directly across the street from the machine shop.
It was the first of 25 such trucks he built through the 1950s for small towns nestled throughout central Wisconsin.
That firetruck, along with two others from Iola’s firefighting history, are housed in a replica firestation at the Iola Historical Society.
Anderson’s foundry patterns for specialty fire truck parts he cast are also on display at the fire station.
In recognition of Anderson’s historic contributions to Iola, the Iola Historical Society will unveil its newest Historic Iola marker, No. 10 – R.I Anderson Machine Shop, at the shop’s original location on State Street.
The building was torn down in 1971, although the foundation still remains, partially covered with vegetation.
The unveiling takes place at noon on Saturday, Aug. 19, next to 190 E. State St.
After the dedication, attendees are invited back to the Iola Historical Society’s Machine Shed at 222 Depot St., where the original machine shop equipment is housed in working condition.
The family of Anderson donated the equipment to the Iola Historical Society several years ago.
It had left Iola, but stayed in the family and in working order, first for Milwaukee and then southern Minnesota before its return to Iola.
Descendants of Anderson are planning on attending the unveiling and afterwards view the vintage Anderson machinery at the historical society.
The historical society’s other buildings and museum will also be open, as they are from noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays from June to August.
The society’s next Historic Iola marker, No. 11 – The CWEC Electrified Rural Iola In 1939, will be unveiled on Oct. 3, followed by the society’s annual Taste of Norway & Lost Arts Fair, on Saturday, Oct. 7.
For more information on the Iola Historical Society and its Historic Iola marker program with marker locations, go to www.iolahistoricalsociety.org.