Dokken: The story of the old Coleman camping stove resonates with readers

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This was the case last week when I wrote a chronicle on a Coleman camping stove over 50 years old that was rescued from the bowels of a farm basement and almost ended up in the garbage heap.

Long story short, the camping stove, which burned white gas and was unusable after years of non-use, was refurbished last spring by a savvy new owner who found spares online. The camping stove, which needed a new fuel tank and generator, performed wonderfully for a July trip to Isle Royale National Park on Lake Superior and has probably already been used more than in the previous 50 years.

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In the column, I also wrote about a Coleman camping stove and a red Coleman single mantle lantern that I owned during high school days over 40 years ago. I even had a foldable oven that sat on the stove burners and was used a lot in a cabin with neighboring children and I was back in the woods.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take care of the classic camping gear like I should have after leaving home for college and making several moves over the following years. Where the camping stove, single mantle lantern, and folding oven ended up, I have no idea.

In this business you rarely hear from readers unless they’re crazy about something in my experience, at least but the review I wrote about the refurbished Coleman camping stove and my long lost Coleman camping gear definitely seemed to strike a chord.

Some highlights:

  • From Darrell E: “I enjoyed your article on the Coleman stove. I still have my red lantern and my green stove.

  • From Fargo Forum colleague Mike McFeely: “My father (long deceased) was a hunter / fisherman in his day and had both a Coleman three burner white gas stove from the 1950s, a single mantle red lantern from the same period, and a single stove. burner / water heater. I used to use the ice fishing lantern in the 1980s but the globe broke and I put it in its case and put it in my garages or sheds wherever I go. reside. I have kept the stove, lantern and one burner stove for all these years … they had been in my shed in Moorhead for 20 years, intact, until I cleaned the shed a few years ago and that I say, “I wonder if these things work? I cleaned the green three-burner stove as best I could, put on some fresh gas and tried to light it. The stove is perfectly lit. Ditto with the one burner stove. I haven’t tried the lantern, but when my sister saw me posting a photo of it on Facebook, she called me and asked if she could have it to put it in her cabin. I said of course. She went online and actually found another red lantern, bought it for the globe and put the globe on my dad’s old lantern (which has his name stamped on the gas tank) and now he sits on their fireplace mantel by the lake.

  • From Dave F: “Thanks for the article. We used (a Coleman camping stove) on Lake of the Woods for about 20 years, when he finally died. Lots of walleye and some Northerns and sage were cooked on a cast iron skillet, with corn and beans in the can !! I can still smell them.

  • From Rex H., who shared a photo of the red Coleman lantern and the homemade wooden carrying case he inherited from his uncle: “A few years ago, I gave my green and white gas stove to a couple in their twenties who still use it. Over the years, I have donated my hiking and camping gear, including my new version of the lantern, to people who can use it. … Hope you like the photo and thank you for triggering old camping memories.

Perhaps the most notable letter, however, is from Ian K., a Coleman collector in Zurich, Switzerland, who found my story online through his Google news feed.

It turns out that there is a large community of Coleman collectors, and Ian referred me to two websites www.colemancollectorsforum.com and www.intlccc.net (the Coleman International Collectors Club) in which like-minded Coleman enthusiasts exchange information about their common interests.

He also referred me to a site that sells almost all Coleman spare parts. It is called, naturally enough, www.oldcolemanparts.com.

While reading my column, Ian, who had just returned from a meeting in Switzerland with Swiss and German collectors, posted a link to my column on the Coleman Collectors Forum. He also mentioned that I was looking for a “200A” as the old single mantle lanterns are known in the collector’s world and asked if anyone had one that they would be willing to sell.

Within hours, a collector contacted me to tell me he had one for sale.

So that’s the story at this point. It remains to be seen whether I will eventually buy the 200A to replace the old one-mantled red lantern I had all those years ago, but Ian’s email opened the doors to a world that I didn’t know it existed.

It’s amazing to me where stories sometimes end.

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken


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