The novelty or fun factor associated with the 50 antique tractors that are built into and around the JUMP facility in downtown Boise is not wearing off, writes Sean Ellis in a news article published by Idaho Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF).
The JUMP facility opened in December 2015 and the tractors were incorporated into the design of the facility.
“They’re more popular than they ever were,” says Rob Bearden, the curator of the JUMP facility’s tractors, whose title is literally Tractor Doctor. “The more we promote them, the more and 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 J.R. “Jack” Simplot, who was known as “Mr. Spud” because of his role in putting Idaho potatoes on the map.
The tractors that adorn the JUMP facility are among 110 pieces of antique agricultural equipment Simplot purchased during an auction in 1998 from an agricultural museum owned by Oscar Cooke, a Montana farmer who died in 1995.
Bearden says 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 pieces of farm equipment Simplot purchased in themselves form one of the world’s premier collections of antique and oddball tractors, he says.
Some of them almost look like they could have come out of a Dr. Seuss book. Others, such as 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 articulating tractor that is the only one left of 28 made (see picture below).
The collection includes a 1923 Avery Track Runner, which is only one of two left in the world (see picture below).
The tractors located inside and outside the JUMP facility are a popular attraction and people from all over the U.S. and world come to visit them, Bearden says.
He says the tractors, which date from the 1890s to 1939, border on being national treasures because they tell the story of the evolution of machinery and agriculture.
“They’re far beyond just antiques,” Bearden says. “Antiques are just a bunch of old stuff. These are more than that. Some of the history involved in these things, the national history and the tractor itself, just makes them very special.”
“You see the whole evolution of tractors here at JUMP,” he says. “We’ve got it all.”
Source: Idaho Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF). Full story here
Cover picture: Rob Bearden, aka the Tractor Doctor, talks about some of the 60 pieces of antique farm equipment that J.R. Simplot purchased from an auction in 1998.
Related: View the 29 page tractor booklet here
Below: A few examples of the antique tractors from the tractor booklet