They may have been old, most of them antiques, but 10 vintage tractors had enough get up and go Sunday to take their drivers from Brooker Central Park in Marion to Marion County Park and Lake and back again in the Great Kansas Antique Tractor Ride, the culminating event of Chingawassa Days.
Greg Bowers got the idea for the event through a combination of reading and personal friendships.
“I’d read about it on the Internet, Farm Journal and Successful Farming have had articles about it, and I thought it sounded like fun,” Bowers said. “Sam Johnson and Jerry Kline have done this in years past, just a Sunday afternoon ‘let’s get together’ kind of thing, so I talked with those guys and they said let’s do it.”
Kline was there with a 1949 John Deere B, and as with many of the participants, the tractor was linked to fond memories.
“That’s what I grew up on. I have an A that was on the family farm. This one was not, but we had a B just like this,” Kline said.
“There’s a story behind every tractor — that’s part of the fun of it,” Bowers said.
Johnson drove a 1949 Massey Ferguson TO 20 he purchased four years ago that he is still in the process of restoring.
“It’s something I’ve just always wanted to do,” Johnson said. “I don’t farm or anything. It gets a little use, but it’s just a toy.”
Dwight Kruse, who, had the newest tractor in the drive, a 1973 International, takes antique tractors seriously.
“I belong to an International Harvester colletors’ club,” Kruse said. “They had the national winter convention in Topeka three years ago. I didn’t take any tractors, but I went.”
Participating in the drive was a last-minute decision for Daryl and Pat Enos. Both have old tractors, but neither of them were running. Daryl borrowed a 1940s-vintage Ford 8N tractor from his father, Eugene Enos, that he drove in the event.
Bowers worked two stops into the route, pausing briefly in front of Marion Assisted Living, and then an extended stop at St. Luke Living Center, where the drivers got off the tractors and interacted with residents.
“It was kind of neat. There were about three of them that I grew up on,” Living Center resident Don Buethe said.
Seeing the antique tractors brought back many memories for Buethe, including the first rubber-tired tractor his family owned, a 1939 International H.
“I remember getting on that and driving down the road at 20 miles an hour. Before that tractors only went 5 mph. What a thrill for a 14-year-old boy to get on a tractor like that,” Buethe laughed.
Resident Ivanlee Timm recalled the days of steel-wheeled tractors as well.
“I used to have an old John Deer GP. It was still on steel wheels, before the war,” Timm said.