Summer Trip Out West

Mark with sons Dominic

Mark with sons Dominic and Kyle at Pioneer Village in Minden, Nebraska.

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172 N. Cascade Drive, Springville, New York 14141

This is a short story of the trip I took last summer with my family my wife Mary and our sons Dominic, 9, and Kyle, 6.

Our first stop was at the Henry Ford Museum where we saw steam traction engines, many of which are rare and I had never seen before. There were gas tractors, gas engines, farming machinery and all sorts of early American historical items on display. We also toured the Greenfield Village that consists of many historic early American buildings. We rode the steam train which circles the village and we had a busy fun-filled day.

Our next stop was in South Dakota where we toured the Corn Palace that's decorated with real corn; the Badlands; Wall Drug, which is a tourist town; Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills; and then to Devil's Tower, in Wyoming.

From there we traveled to Billings. Mary kept asking why we were going to Billings and I kept telling her, 'Just so you can say you've been there.' When we got to Billings and stopped at the Travelers Information, Mary saw the brochure for Oscar's Dreamland, she looked at me and asked, 'This is why we came here?' All I could do was smile.

At Oscar's Dreamland, we saw all the treasures that Oscar Cooke, who passed away in 1995, had collected. Over 400 rare tractors and many various types of early farming machinery. Oscar's son-in-law told me that the museum is for sale and the collection may have to be auctioned off. This is certainly the best antique farm equipment collection in the world. It's a real treat.

We then traveled through Yellow stone National Park, through Teton Mountains, Jackson Hole, Arches National Park, through Colorado to Nebraska. We toured Scott's Bluff and Chimney Rock, where we learned about the prairie travelers and the wagon trails. Driving through Nebraska was a real treat for me because I am a windmill nut! There are mills still in service and very plentiful.

Our next stop was in Minden, Nebraska, where we spent two days at Pioneer Village, which is historic buildings, early farm machinery and all types of early American displays. In operation is a steam carousel we rode for a nickel. We really enjoyed ourselves at this place. We also learned about tornado watches. That was a scary night especially when you're in a pop-up camper.

We then traveled to Iowa where we stopped in Mount Pleasant at the Old Thresher's Museum. We toured the displays, looked at the tractors, engines and farming equipment that are re stored to perfection. I am planning on attending the reunion, some year. These people put on one heck of a show.

We spent 21 days on the road, and they went by fast. We saw many other sights not mentioned in this article and no one seemed homesick, but it felt good to be back home.

If you ever get the chance, don't hesitate to go out west. Many people gave a lot of their own lives to make and protect this country, and it's a shame a lot of people never take the time to see or enjoy it. Make sure you take a lot of pictures. We took over 400!

Mary said she was tired of looking at tractors, but I sure wasn't. I can't wait for the next trip!

I've heard Oklahoma has the most windmills. Can it be true?

Editor's note: There will be an auction of equipment at Oscar's Dreamland in Billings, Montana, on June 13-15, 1998.