Thursday, January 03, 2013


Ron Miller with the 'lost' 1938 NSU 251-OSL
It must have been a traumatic scene; 15 year old Dean Allie was showing off in December of 1956 on Big Swan Lake near Dassel, Minnesota, riding over the ice as his father and a few ice-fishing locals watched.  His father had only recently given him the 18-year-old NSU 251-OSL, probably a Christmas present, but a patch of thin ice saw Dean and the NSU plunge into the icy waters of the lake.  Lucky for Dean, he'd cinched and zipped his leather jacket tight (it was cold out!), and the jacket acted as a flotation device long enough for nearby anglers to save him.  The NSU, though, plunged to the bottom of the lake.
The NSU clearly lay on its left side, as corrosion is worst there...but the tires still hold air!
In the Spring, they tried hard to rescue the NSU, with nets, rowboats, and even divers, but it was lost, and eventually forgotten.  At least until last month, when a local commercial fisherman, Jeff Reidemann, who uses vertical nets to catch carp (called 'seining'), pulled up a surprisingly heavy load; the NSU, in remarkably good condition after 56 years under water.  'I've pulled up a lot of debris in my time; boats, motors, antlers, a buffalo skull, but this trumped them all... There it was. We couldn't believe it.'
The red vinyl seat and fuel tank cover are still fresh, proving plastic last forever.  The handlebars seem to have gone, but the control cables are still present
Word of the unusual find got around the small community, and someone remembered a search for the lost NSU in '56, and put Reidemann in touch with Dean Allie, now 71 (still living near Dassel), whose eyes welled with tears at seeing his lost machine.  Of course, it was still his motorcycle, but Allie decided to hand the machine to a friend of the fisherman, Ron Miller of New Ulm MN, who collects old bikes, and promised to clean and display the NSU 'as is'.
The original dealer's plaque from Fulda, Germany
Of course, if the vehicle had been a Bugatti, and the lake in Switzerland, this would be a far less humble story... it's amazing what turns up these days from under the water; Tiger tanks, P38s, motorcycles, priceless cars.  No, I'm not taking up scuba diving...I prefer to find motorcycles the old fashioned way...

Thanks to the Mankato Free Press and the New Ulm Journal for information and photos!


Anonymous said...

Nice story - this beats catching any carp!

- ODFU Clothing

Kai Vallon said...

How cool is that? I can't imagine losing something like that only to find it fifty years later, what a lucky duck.