The novelty or fun factor of the 50 antique tractors installed in and around the JUMP facility in downtown Boise won’t wear off, writes Sean Ellis in an article published by the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF).
The JUMP facility opened in December 2015, and tractors were incorporated into the facility’s design.
“They’re more popular than ever,” says Rob Bearden, curator of tractors at the JUMP facility, whose title is literally Tractor Doctor. “The more we promote them, the more people show up and see them.”
Jack’s Urban Meeting Place is a $70 million community gathering center funded by the family of the late JR “Jack” Simplot, known as “Mr. Spud” for his role in putting Idaho potatoes on the map.
The tractors adorning the JUMP facility are among 110 pieces of Simplot antique farm equipment purchased at auction in 1998 from an agricultural museum owned by Oscar Cooke, a Montana farmer who died in 1995.
According to Bearden, Cooke had the largest collection of tractors and farm implements in the world at the time, and Simplot bought the best of the best.
The 110 agricultural machines purchased by Simplot alone form one of the world’s premier collections of antique and unusual tractors, he says.
Some of them almost look like they came out of a Dr. Seuss book. Others, like the Kerosene Annie, a 1909 Rumely prototype, are literally one-of-a-kind. Some are the last of their kind, such as a 1910 Olmstead, a four-wheel-drive articulated tractor that is the only one of 28 left (see image below).
The collection includes a 1923 Avery Track Runner, one of only two left in the world (see image below).
The tractors inside and outside the JUMP facility are a popular attraction, drawing people from all over the United States and the world, Bearden says.
He says tractors dating from the 1890s to 1939 border on being national treasures because they tell the story of the development of machinery and agriculture.
“These are far beyond antiques,” says Bearden. “Antiques are just a bunch of old stuff. These are about more. Some of the history attached to these things, the national history and the tractor itself, just makes them very special.”
“Here at JUMP you can see the full evolution of tractors,” he says. “We have everything.”
Source: Idaho Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF). Full story here
Cover image: Rob Bearden, a.k.a. the tractor doctor, talks about the 60 pieces of antique farm equipment that JR Simplot bought at auction in 1998.
Connected: View the 29-page tractor booklet here
Below: Some examples of antique tractors from the tractor brochure