As I Saw It

The museum of Walter Mehmke

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R. R. 4, Huntington, Indiana 46750

1977 was the year my wife and I decided on a trip to the North Country. I was anxious again to see the farms that were so big that every farm had to have its own torn cat. That would have to be Montana. We left home in our pick-up and travel trailer and crossed Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota and north through Wyoming to Sheridan. Then to Billings, Montana. On Monday morning we attended the State Fair and were fascinated by the exhibits of big four wheel tractors and all the equipment that went with them. In the P.M. we went south of town to Oscar Cook's Dreamland Museum where we spent the afternoon. It was simply wonderful, with 350 or more tractors in two big steel buildings, in long rows all painted in their original colors and ready to run. Time will not permit me to tell all that I saw. He had an Olmstead made in Great Falls and was probably the first four wheel tractor made and the only one left in the country. Mr. Cook and I missed connections so 1 did not find out where he found it. He had it on display at the State Fair where this picture was taken. It has a 28 HP four cylinder Cliffton vertical engine at 400 RPM. It has a 75 gallon tubular radiator with fan in the rear. Remy magneto ignition, Detroit force feed lubrication and Schebler carburetor. It was chain driven. Mr. Cook had a wonderful museum of antique tractors and steam engines. Other rare tractors were a 30-60 Titan (the only one in the U.S.) and a 35-70 Nichols and Shepard all painted up and in running order. He also had about 25 steam engines, separators, old combines, etc. This museum is well worth the trip, as I have never seen so much good stuff painted up and under roof in my life.

The next day we went to see the museum of Walter Mehmke, ten miles east of Great Falls on his ranch. A nice collection of steam engines and tractors. Every place has something different and that's the way it should be. He had a square Turn tractor with three-bottom plow made in Iowa. That is the second one of that tractor that I have seen. He also had a Hart Parr 35 with a one cylinder upright engine with two small wheels in front, made for road work, but could be used for any kind of work. A very rare tractor, and of course a nice 30-60 Hart Parr which was much used in this country. The next stop was at the ranch of Mr. and Mrs. Ted Worrall outside of Loma, Montana. Now we are in BIG farming country. They don't talk of acres here, but sections of 640 acres. This is winter wheat country here, vast acreages of it.

From Saskatoon we went to Yorkton to see another Provincial Museum. They had the usual run of antique tractors plus a 60-90 Twin City. The only other one like it is at Rolla, Minnesota.

From there we went down through the Red River Valley to Ithasci Lake which is the start of the Mississippi River. It was beautiful there except it rained all the time. You can step across the river there if you want to risk it.

Then on down to the Rollag show. They put on their usual good show except it rained every day. Still the crowds came, rain coats and boots, which proves to me that if you have stuff you will get the crowd anyway.

From there we went to the 24th Reunion of the Threshers show at Dalton, Minn. The weather cleared and they had a fine show. This is one place where the old timers meet and visit. Plenty of threshing and steam plowing when the weather permits. At Dalton we meet old friends from far and wide. Gilmer Johnson from Fredic, Wis; Art Hudachuk from West Liberty, Iowa; The Melby Bros.; Henry Johnson and a man from Manitoba, Can. along with others too many to name. There you will see a 30-60 Oil Pull also a 15-30 Oil Pull, a 30-60 Russell, 20-40 Minn. Universal and a 5-10 Avery, plus the usual run seen at most shows. There were five couples from Indiana there this year. I think the thing that makes this show so friendly is that the people who come are rural and not so many city folks. I think next year will be their 25th anniversary and we won't want to miss that.

The Worrals gave us a royal time. Took us to see historical places and big farms. Ted has a wonderfu. collection of tractor and steam engine catalogues and magazines and literature and is considered quite an authority on the history of such. The land here is black, gently rolling and produced good crops depending upon the rainfall. This year's crop was good but the prices were not so good as we in the Corn Belt know. This is all wheat and a little barley. At Worrals I saw the largest four wheel tractor I ever saw. It was called the Big Bud. Made at Harve, only forty miles north of their ranch. It has a 350 H.P. Cummings Diesel engine. Fuel tank held 525 gallons and lasted two days. It pulled about anything that moved. They had a 49 ft field cultivator behind it and did 400 acres a day. I didn't dare tell Ted about the dinky little stuff we farmed with in the corn belt. His double disk was thirty six feet across as was his grain drill, but when your putting 3,000 acres in, one has to be equipped to do it on time.

Texas brags about its bigness but Mont, has it and the only thing that blows is the wind. They were through with their harvest and I'd be afraid to tell you the number of bushels of wheat they have in storage on the farm. I found the price of wheat in the same depression as in Indiana, however they do get a little more for their hard winter wheat.

We went north into Canada through the Cypress Hill to Saskatoon, where we visited their wonderful museum three times as large as it was in 1970. This was our third visit to this museum. Worth the trip any day. There we saw a 27 H.P. one cylinder vertical; Hart Parr, and a forty H.P. two cyl vertical Hart Parr. both with two narrow wheels in front. Made for road work but would work any place. Very rare tractors! I had a nice visit with George Shephard one who was largely responsible for starting the museum. At eighty eight years of age, he is still able to come to the office every day. I think hard winters and simple diets is what gives these people their longevity. Its nothing to find people in their nineties.