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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Tractor Cruise motors through Grand Meadow Heritage Center

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

On June 28, the Grand Meadow Heritage Center grounds were a blast from our agricultural past as the drivers, riders and other sundry participants in Tractor Cruise USA stopped in for a pit stop and a bit of lunch. Photo by Ron Flewelling
On June 28, by all appearances, the Grand Meadow Heritage Center was knee-deep in the middle of an agricultural time warp.

This rare and rather startling phenomenon took place thanks to a whirlwind blast and road trip from the past that featured a cavalcade of tractors of all shapes and sizes.

The bulk of this timely procession was made up of antique tractors, some rare and some emblazoned with familiar names and logos from Iowa's ag past, a litany that included John Deere, Massey, Ford, Farmall and International.

The Heritage Center visit was part of the itinerary of the first ever Tractor Ride Across Iowa, appropriately christened "Tractor Cruise USA."

The event, which was sponsored by Valu-Bilt Tractor Parts of Indianola, Iowa and Tractor Cruise USA of Anamosa, combined all the best parts of education and state pride with heaping helpings of agricultural history lessons and charitable endeavors to create a captivating amble across Iowa.

Jim Fell, of Anamosa, coordinator for the event, said that for reasons of road safety the cruise was limited to 100 tractors.

"The interest in the trip was extraordinary," Fell said. "We filled our quota very quickly and had to turn a lot of applicants away."

"When the final roster was drawn up," Fell continued. "We had tractors from all over Iowa as well as seven other states including Arizona and Florida." To be included in the Cruise, all tractors participating in the event had to be mechanically sound and able to maintain a 14 mph road speed.

Even then, the procession would be stretched out for three-and-a-half miles along the highway at any given point in the road trip.

You might say that the term "Oldies but Goodies" also pertained to the drivers as well as their tractors.

It was estimated that the average age of the tractor jockeys was in the neighborhood of 65 years.

Tractor Cruise USA was a six day affair that was launched in Dubuque on Day One.

The Cruise's journey has wound its way through 22 counties and 65 communities, racking up 575 miles on the odometer in the process. It was noted that several of the legs of the journey covered over a 100 miles of the roads of Iowa's hinterlands, a marathon amount of bouncing around on a tractor seat no matter how you look at it.

The stopover at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center took place at mid-day on the Cruise's Day Four as the procession passed through on their way west. While at the Heritage Center, the Tractor Cruise drivers and their support groups enjoyed a lunch prepared by the Heritage board and other volunteers. The menu for the meal included taverns, potatoes, baked beans, drinks, cookies and ice cream.

After lunch, many of the drivers took the opportunity to tour the Heritage Center buildings and displays.

Upon their departure from Grand Meadow, the stampede of tractors headed on out towards their turnaround point in Sioux City.

The tractor road trip will conclude at the Cattle Congress in Waterloo on Day Six.

Jim Fell noted that the funds raised from the event will be donated to Farm Safety for Kids.

It should also be pointed out that the folks from the Grand Meadow Heritage Center handled the whole Tractor Cruise USA visit with casual aplomb.

As far as they were concerned, it really provided a great early practice session for the Grand Meadow Heritage Days which will take place on Sept. 9 and 10.

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