Risen From Watery Grave

1938 NSU Motorcycle that was salvaged from the bottom of Swan Lake in Dassel MN

photo courtesy of The Journal, Photo by Fritz Busch

Ken Seemann, a New Ulm Minnesota fisherman says he is used to finding odd things in his nets, but he wasn’t prepared for what he found last month while dragging a net for carp in the Big Swan Lake in Dassel MN.  Seemann said he knew he’d snagged something unusually heavy and when he pulled up his nets he found a 1956 NSU 251-OSL single cylinder motorcycle.   Seemann could tell from the bikes condition it had been in the lake a long time, so he started asking around and found someone who recalled how a young man, Dean Ailie,  had ridden his motorcycle on the ice 56 years ago and he and the bike had fallen through.  Luckily the young man’s leather jacket was cinched tight at the waist and filled with air, which helped keep him afloat until nearby fishermen could pull him out.

Founded in 1873, NSU was a German manufacturer of automobiles, motorcycles and pedal cycles. Built at the Neckarsulm, Germany factory in 1934, the 251 motorcycle had a 249 CC engine. The model was used by the German army for solo dispatch duties from 1938 to 1940, according to Deutsche Autos.  Completely destroyed in World War II, NSU began building bicycles and motor-bicycles at its Nickarsulm plant in December 1946. In 1955, NSU was the world’s biggest motorcycle producer.

The company set world speed records in 1951, 1953, 1954 and 1955. In August 1956 at the Bonneville, Utah Salt Flats, Wilhelm Herz became the first man to ride a motorcycle more than 200 mph, according to Deutsche Autos.

Seemann located Ailie,  now 71 and still lives in the Dassel area was in tears when the bike was brought to him.  Ailie told local reporters that the bike will be given to a local restorer, Ron Miller who has agreed to restore the bike as best as can be done, (it will never run again) and display it with a placard telling the story of it’s drowning, and recovery.   Ailie told Miller all he wants is a photo of the bike once it’s restored.