with our tour of south central Nebraska back in early September… The Nebraska
Prairie Museum in Holdrege was packed with lots of antiques, vignettes of how
life used to be and all kinds of related memorabilia. This segment will deal with some of the
larger items on display…farm equipment and transportation.
can see, this display hall was packed with farm equipment. There are tractors, combines, wagons,
bailers, plows and much, much more to view.
We’ve seen larger displays of old farm equipment but the Nebraska
Prairie Museum manages to cover the basic gamut of related equipment in a
old Case Steam Tractor with its metal wheels is displayed with a long belt
attached to another piece of farm machinery.
tractors were used extensively in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The first steam tractors designed
specifically for agricultural uses were just portable engines built on skids or
on wheels and transported to the work area using horses. Later models used the power of the steam
engine itself to power a drive train to move the machine. Reportedly, they were first referred to as "traction
drive" engines…which eventually was shortened to "tractor".
threshing machine or ‘separator’ is connected to the Case Steam Tractor with
the belts. The threshing machine is
powered by the tractor via the belts.
was one of America's largest builders of steam engines, producing
self-propelled portable engines, traction engines and steam tractors. It was also a major producer of threshing
machines and other harvesting equipment.
The company was founded in 1844.
The brand survives today as part of CNH Global, a division of the Fiat
Group. Today, Case IH is the world’s
second largest brand of agricultural equipment.
photo shows a picture of a steam tractor and threshing machine at work in a field. As you can see, it is a major operation
requiring quite a few field hands. Farmers
would gather bundles of hay from the shocks scattered across the field, loading
them on the on the horse-drawn hayracks.
Then they’d pitch the bundles into the separator/thresher. Straw would be blown out the back into a pile
and the grain would be fed into a grain wagon along the side of the
the days when steam tractors were being used, this was another necessary piece
of farm equipment. This is a Case Water
Wagon…without water, you can’t make steam to power the tractor’s engine.
mother’s family name is McCormick so we couldn’t pass up this clunky looking
tractor. These less expensive, lighter,
and faster-starting internal combustion (kerosene, petrol or distillate)
tractors fully emerged after World War I, replacing the steam tractors.
McCormick name in farm machinery dates back to Cyrus McCormick, who produced
the first successful reaper in 1831. McCormick's
company was one of the many operations that eventually became International
Harvester. International renamed their
new tractors as McCormick-Deering in 1923. The McCormick-Deering name was used on
standard (wide) front tractors for the next three decades.
a Weber Farm Wagon. In 1902, the
McCormick Harvesting Machine Company merged with four other harvesting machine
companies (Deering Harvester Company; Warder, Bushnell and Glessner Company;
the Milwaukee Harvester Company and the Plano Manufacturing Company) to form
International Harvester Company. In
1904, the company also purchased the Weber Wagon Company. This particular wagon was sold to a local
farmer by a dealer located in Holdrege.
piece of whimsy is an early golf cart…complete with some old golf clubs. I didn’t pick up the name of the manufacturer
but it was donated by a local family whose patriarch had used it for many years. I’d feel a lot safer in today’s 4-wheelers!
a 1925 Model T Ford Delivery Van. It was
restored using a solid walnut body…probably the only one like it in existence. The RCA sign was hand painted by an artist
from Lincoln Nebraska.
a new Ford truck production record was established…with more than 270,000 vehicles
coming off the production line! You will
note that the trucks and automobiles on exhibit at the Nebraska Prairie Museum
are practical…they aren’t ‘hot’ or ‘exotic’ vehicles. It does boggle my mind that they were donated
and not just sold off in the marketplace.
Lots of restoration effort is evident as well!
a 1922 LaFrance Fire Engine. The first
fire department was organized in Holdrege in 1886 but the first fire truck
wasn’t acquired until 1916. It was a
fire truck constructed on a Buick chassis!
This engine was purchased in 1923 and it stayed in service until 1947. It originally cost $8,000…$109,000 in today’s
American LaFrance Fire Engine Company was one of the oldest fire apparatus
manufacturers in America. It was founded in 1873 by Truckson LaFrance and his
partners. Early on, the company built hand-drawn,
horse-drawn, and steam-powered fire engines. American LaFrance delivered its first
motorized fire engine in 1907. Over the
years, American LaFrance built thousands of fire trucks including chemical
engines, combination pumpers, aerial ladder trucks, Aero Chief snorkel trucks,
and airport crash trucks. The Company
ceased operations in January of 2014.
a 1920 Federal truck. It was restored by
the son of the original owner and then it was donated to the museum. The family farm was in Funk Nebraska.
The Federal Motor Truck Company was headquartered
in Detroit, Michigan. The company was
founded in 1910 as Bailey Motor Truck by Martin L. Pulcher, who would later
found the Oakland Motor Car Company. The last Federal vehicle made for the US
marketplace was made in 1959. Between
1910 and 1959, over 160,000 Federal trucks were assembled. As of February 2004, only 183 of surviving
Federal trucks had been located in an effort to build a registry of these
can see by the sign on the running board, this truck is a 1914 Republic. The Republic Motor Truck Company was a
manufacturer of commercial trucks from around 1913 – 1929. The company was based in Alma, Michigan. By 1918, it was recognized as the largest
truck manufacturer in the world. (i.e., the largest company manufacturing only
trucks) At that time, it built one out of every 9 trucks on the road in the
USA. During WWI, Republic was one of the
major suppliers of the "Liberty trucks" used by American troops
during World War I.
· Author Edgar Rice Burroughs (creator of
Tarzan) purchased a Republic truck in 1916 and drove it across the United
States. His exploits were later published in the pamphlet "An
· Republic had over 3,000 dealers across the United
States, with additional dealers in at least 56 foreign countries and colonies.
said before, fancy doesn’t count in this museum. It’s all about day-to-day life and the
mundane or basic items that were used by residents of this prairie
landscape. This 1952 Buick Special was
the first car sold in Holdrege by a local Buick dealership. This 2-door hard top coupe model was first
introduced in 1951.
modified Dodge truck is “Dempster #2”… It was used for windmill installation or
repairs. Dempster Industries was in the
business of selling windmills across the prairie.
the Homestead Act of 1862 opened the door for settlers to claim free land
across the United States, Charles Dempster saw an opportunity. He founded Dempster Industries in 1878 in
Beatrice Nebraska. His company became the
first windmill manufacturer in the country that also sold water pumps, cisterns
and other tools for pioneer life. The
company expanded over the years with the company employing over 500 workers at
the outbreak of World War II, Dempster refocused its manufacturing efforts into
producing 1.5 million 90-millimeter shells for the war effort. At one point the company was acquired by billionaire
investor Warren Buffett. He sold it
later on to other investors and the company stopped manufacturing windmill
parts in 2009 and it now appears to be in default. Good news for those of you who want to buy a
Dempster windmill or who need replacement part!
You can go to this website to fulfill your needs: http://www.windmill-parts.com/id48.html.
1923 Model T Ford Pick-Up truck was donated by the same family that donated the
Federal truck that I posted earlier in this blog. From what I could determine from a bit of
research, the short truck bed is a modification that was made after the Model T
came off the assembly line. Ford
apparently didn’t begin production of assembly line pick-up truck versions
This nice looking 4-door automobile is a 1930 Nash.
It was donated by the same family that gave the museum the preceding
Model T Ford and the Republic truck.
Motors Company was based in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The company began production in 1916.
Nash production continued under one corporate entity or another until
its eventual parent company, American Motors, ceased production in 1957. To learn more about Nash automobiles and to
view a gallery of Nash Automobile photos, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nash_Motors.
another Model T Ford that has ‘pulled up’ in front of an early gas station for
a little service. Kids today wouldn’t
understand the concept that attendants used to clean windshields, then check
the tires and the oil…at no additional charge!
1914, the assembly process for the Model T had been so streamlined it took only
93 minutes to assemble a car! That year
Ford produced more cars than all other automakers combined... By the time Henry
built his 10 millionth car, 50 percent of all cars in the world were Fords. On May 26, 1927 Henry Ford and his son Edsel,
drove the 15 millionth Model T out of the factory. This marked the famous automobile's official
last day of production in the USA.
Nebraska Prairie Museum also has a large display of automobile related
ephemera. Oil cans, gas pumps, tools and
signs set the tone for the area where the cars and trucks are displayed. Many people collect these objects and eBay
has pages of them listed for sale.
stated earlier, there is nothing fancy or 'high end' about the automobiles on
display at this museum. Still, this is a
beautiful little car! It’s a 1928 Model
A Ford. Note the ‘rumble seat’ in the
rear. Model A’s were built between 1928
and 1932. Roughly 4,850,000 were built.
(The tudor sold for $500, that's only $6,800 in today’s dollars)
not forget the horse and buggy days!
Along the balcony on one side of this big exhibit hall, a number of
buggies donated by local families were on display. The buggy to the right is a “One Horse Buggy”
that was built by the Moon Brothers.
It’s all original! I found a
similar buggy for sale on line…although it needs some restoration. You can have it for only $1,895. Check it out at http://www.colonialcarriage.com/item.cfm?id=750.
course, what would any museum be that's located in an area that was molded by the railroads, without an old caboose?! I liked this photo of the old farm house, the
church and the caboose against the beautiful sunny early fall sky.
about it for this ‘chapter’ of our visit to the Nebraska Prairie Museum. The next and final chapter will be about a
chapter of American history that I’d never thought about before…
click on any of these photos to enlarge them.
for stopping by for a visit!
Care, Big Daddy Dave