A River Bottom Allis


| July/August 1996

  • Erwin Kretzschmar and the rare Allis Chalmers
    Erwin Kretzschmar and the rare Allis Chalmers.

  • Erwin Kretzschmar and the rare Allis Chalmers

Rt. 3, Box 157, Floresville, Texas 78114

Our son Melvin and his wife Carol came home late one Sunday after noon and immediately told me what they had found. Melvin said they were out driving around and had met their cousin, Calvin Bibert. Calvin in turn said that his cousin, who works cattle on large ranches, had seen a tractor in the San Antonio River bottom near Karnes City on the Helena Highway. He didn't have anything to do, so they decided to track it down. They found the ranch belonged to a bachelor who lived in Karnes City.

When Melvin came over and tried to explain what they had found, I couldn't believe there was anything like that in the country. The only way I could find out what it was, was to get out a book on old tractors and let him see if he could find anything which resembled what they saw. When I came to a picture of an Allis Chalmers 10-18 he said, 'Whoa, that's it!'

That night it was hard to sleep because I couldn't wait till Monday morning to see it in person. Our first step was to get the ranch owner's name so we would know on whose place the tractor was located, and then take it from there. That morning we didn't have to set an alarm, as we were waiting for daylight. My wife Tillie and I covered the forty miles quickly, and arrived at the ranch gate early. It was a good thing we arrived early, because the ranch owner was coming out of the gate. How lucky can one be!



After our introduction and a little weather talk, I asked if we were at the right place, and then we got down to business. Well, I didn't want to make an offer without seeing the tractor, so we asked permission to take a look at it. He said it would be okay to look at it, while he fed his cattle. Even though the tractor had 'grown up' in a cluster of mesquite trees, we were thrilled as we got our first glimpse. As we got closer, I noted the radiator and magneto were gone. I figured I could find a magneto for it and use a radiator from another tractor. After making up my mind, I decided to offer the owner $100.00. So, I went to the pens where he was feeding the cattle and made the $100.00 offer. He hesitated a little and asked if I couldn't make it $150.00. Well I figured it was worth it, so I made him out a check and said I would pick it up the next day, as it might take a while to load it.

That afternoon we checked over the old truck and gathered all the tools we might need to load the tractor. It may sound silly to take along a chain saw, but the trees had grown through the wheels and this was a quick way to cut them out. As we pulled it out of the thicket into a clearing, the front wheel collapsed. The frame that held the front wheel on, had rusted through. The broken frame caused more trouble in loading, but we had enough railroad jacks, a come along, chains and blocks to get it loaded.