Where Do Old Tractors Go When They Die?


Country MoonIt’s time for the 7th annual Mackinac Bridge Antique Tractor Crossing. We have been up for this event a couple of times and it really is something to see. Last year’s parade saw 907 tractors go over the bridge in approximately 3 1/2 hours. Many were restored and others came straight from the field, sporting rust and all.

What is it about rusted old iron that is so appealing? For many, it brings a sense of nostalgia for a way of life that has passed and for others there is a sentimental attraction. So, I began to wonder as to what does happen to old tractors when they die.

A whopping 75 percent of tractors past their prime are collected and usually restored. The general rule of thumb is any tractor over 25 years old is considered an antique. The other 25 percent go to museums or are broken down for parts.

The oldest gasoline tractor in the United States is displayed in the State Agricultural Museum at the Stonefield Historic Site in Cassville, Wisconsin, a charming little town in the state’s far southwest corner. The tractor is a one-of-a-kind McCormick Auto Mower and is estimated to have been built in 1899. We had a chance to tour the museum a few years ago and I can safely say that modern-day tractors have come a long way. The McCormick didn’t look like any tractor I had ever seen!

Another rare piece at the museum is the Allis Chalmers Model U Tractor, the first farm tractor with factory installed rubber tires. When you want a break from seeing vintage farm equipment, you can wander through Stonefield’s re-created 1900 rural farming village.

At the opposite end of the spectrum from old tractors ending up in museums are those dismantled for parts. Nowhere is this more evident than at McGrew Tractor Parts near New Paris, Indiana. As we drove by, there were non-stop acres, 17 acres to be exact, of rusted old tractors setting in a field. As it turns out, McGrew’s is the nation’s leading John Deere salvage yard with 3,000-plus tractors in the yard and growing. They specialize in new and used tractor parts for almost every model of John Deere built since 1924.

9/11/2014 6:05:53 PM

Lois, all across the Midwest folks just have a fascination with tractors and trucks. There always a big part of county fairs with pulling contests or just on display. The best thing I saw one time was the tractor square dance. The tractors were put through the maneuvers of a regular square dance caller. Eight tractor whirling around the pavement and always in sync. They were small Farmall cubs. The tractor rodeo was the next best thing with the tractor race. The object was to be the last across the finish line. They matched up a tiny little cub tractor with a massive Oliver diesel. As the little cub lurched along trying to go slow, the big Oliver crept along in an incredibly slow pace. It really wasn't a contest. As the little cub crossed the finish line the mighty Oliver was not more than half way to the finish line. What a surprise it gave those watching. ***** Have a great tractor day.

Live The Good Life with GRIT!

Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of GRIT for just $22.95!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters