OSCAR'S DREAMLAND: A Retrospective


| October/November 1993



4745 Hesper Road Billings, Montana 59106

The year was 1968 and a decision had to be made. With forty years of ranching and farm equipment sales behind him, Oscar Cooke was ready to retire and enjoy life. He had been collecting tractors and steam engines since 1957 and wanted to work full time with the collection. Maybe open it to the public, share this agricultural history with everyone. But what to call it?

Oscar's wife, Marcia, finally hit on the perfect name, seeing that this vast collection of tools and machinery were from Oscar's own past. Dreamland would fit the operation perfectly. And although no fairies or dragons can be seen at Oscar's Dreamland, the dreams and hopes of the American farmer, as well as the insights of the inventor and industrialist, are spread before you in a cross-section of Americana.

Oscar was born in 1901 around Emporia, Kansas, where his parents were farmers. Growing up on the farm set Oscar on the road to a half-century career in agriculture. At age 16, he started his own threshing business. His own farming operation soon followed.

In the years before the Depression, farmers were approached by the big tractor factories to be dealers on their farms. Oscar saw a good opportunity and became a Rumely tractor dealer.

Oscar enjoyed the farm machinery business and soon pursued a job with the large manufacturers. He found himself working for the biggest in the nation, Allis-Chalmers. He worked his way up the sales ladder and it wasn't long before he was Midwestern branch manager for all Allis-Chalmers sales, based in Omaha. This success proved to Oscar that he could make it in the farm equipment business, so, with his brother, he opened an Allis-Chalmers dealership in Chillicothe, Missouri. The dealership grew to be one of the largest in the U.S.