Gallery: Tractors of yesteryear

Published 11:05 am Monday, July 18, 2011

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Farming journey through time made in Racine

Every summer, Mower County travels a little farther back in time for one weekend.

Last weekend, area residents did it for the 28th time, at the Root River Antique Engine and Tractor Show several miles south of Racine. The show, put on by the Root River Antique Historic Power Association, features a scene from the past that one could nearly get lost in if he or she forgot what was really going on.

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Collectors don’t just bring their items and display them, they use their items for what they were meant — work.

Perhaps one of the hardest-working scenes at the event was a saw mill steam engine. Two people operated the 1922, 24-horse power, wood-fired Minneapolis steam engine, while several others operated a giant saw driven by the steam engine’s belt. The men cut entire tree trunks into thin boards in the sweltering heat Friday afternoon — after they had already threshed wheat with the machine early in the morning morning. Though the weather was muggy, it didn’t discourage the enthusiasts who operate the equipment each year.

John Peterson, owner of the steam engine, described the event as “something that kind of gets in your blood.”

Peterson pushed and pulled levers on the steam engine while his partner, Daniel Wyman, 14, cut wood and fed it into the steam powered beast. Wyman also knows how to operate the steam engine, something that has been getting in his blood as well.

“It’s a sickness,” Wyman said about the antique equipment that keeps drawing him back each year.

While seven men ran the entire saw mill operation, there were plenty of other things to see, too. Among a slew of Ford, John Deere, Allis Chalmers and other tractors, collectors displayed gas engines, cars, threshing machines and other oddities from the early 1900s. The association seems to add something newer and more interesting every year. Some long-standing pieces at the event include an old print shop, barber shop, country store, radio store, gas station, jail house and an original piece of Mower County’s history — the dome from the Mower County Court House that was built in 1884.

A horse pull, tractor pull, flea market, polka band and miniature train are just a few more reasons people attend the event each year.

Though the event is over for 2011, 2012’s show will just be another year traveled farther back in time.