Tractor Wrestling in Vermont

Hardly a Sport, Only a Lucky Few Survive Even One Round


| October/November 2002



Wheel pounded the concrete

Just visible is a mark made from the Fordson's other wheel as it pounded the concrete.

Tractor wrestling, for the uninitiated, is any event that gets you tangled up in a life-or-limb situation on, under or near a tractor. Paul Ferguson of Springfield, Vt., knows this firsthand.

Paul, my co-worker at the time of the accident, has a history of heart trouble, and when he didn't show up for work one Monday morning we were concerned.

Our worst fears were confirmed about 10 a.m., when news came Paul had been in a tractor accident and had also suffered a heart attack while en route to the hospital. Although we were very worried (and not just a little curious), no one wanted to trouble the family to ask what happened. The next day we learned Paul had been run over by the rear wheel on his tractor and that his pelvis was broken.

Paul had pictures of two of his tractors on his toolbox, so we scurried over to check them out. His 1935 McCormick-Deering W-30 had 4-foot steel rear wheels with spikes about 2 inches long, three abreast, across its 8-inch wide face. The spikes would have punctured four or five holes through his pelvis. The other tractor was a 1922 Fordson with 4-foot steel rear wheels with 14, 2-inch high steel webs riveted to each 8-inch wide face. The webs would have left three or four huge gashes and would have pulverized his pelvis. We decided it must have been another tractor.

It was two weeks before Paul could have visitors, and I popped in to visit him as soon as I could. Paul was still pretty uncomfortable, so I only stayed long enough to find out what happened.

'I started up the 1922 Fordson to get it ready for the tractor show the following weekend and left it idling inside the shed,' Paul told me. 'As I stepped down in front of the left rear wheel, my cut-off pant leg slipped over the gearshift lever, which left me with one foot on the floor and the rest of me dangling. In the struggle to get loose, the lever popped it into gear as the pants tore loose and I hit the concrete floor looking up. This 4-foot tractor wheel was about to run over me from the right side of my pelvis toward my left shoulder.