A nearly 100-year-old John Deere “D” found its final home Thursday at the Overland Trail Museum.

Howard Hoxie of Sterling, who had owned the tractor with the late Dr. Curtis Kimball, turned the restored machine over to the museum with the help of 21st Century Implement Co.’s Sterling crew and parked it in the museum’s big red barn.

The tractor was the first John Deere sold in Logan County. It was purchased by Fleming farmer Henry Monroe in 1925 from Fredregill Implement Co. of Sterling. Monroe farmed with the JD for 26 years before trading it in on a newer model in 1951.

The tractor changed hands a number of times, eventually coming into the possession of Hoxie and Dr. Kimball, who wanted to restore it and began to disassemble and refurbish it. Unfortunately, the restoration was a bit beyond Kimball’s expertise, and he turned the project over to Kenny Rhodes. Rhodes said he couldn’t help tease the renowned surgeon about his lack of restoration skill.

“When I got it, it was in pieces,” Rhodes said. “I told Dr. Kimball, ‘Doc, I think this goes way beyond surgery You ought to stick to medicine.’”

It took Rhodes two years, working in his spare time, to reassemble the old D, and on Thursday it was loaded onto a 21st Century low-boy and hauled out to Overland Trail Museum where a spanking new E-series JD was used to tow the old-timer to its final resting place. Rhodes said the tractor runs, but couldn’t be driven under its own power because its steel rims no longer have the lugs needed to propel it through a field. 21st Century Equipment was heavily involved in the move, with Sterling location manager Kenny Alderson, sales rep Nathan Vidmar and big rig driver Randy Metzger working to deliver the antique tractor.

Kay Brigham Rich, curator of the museum, was delighted to receive the tractor. As it happens, the museum’s collection includes a photo of Henry Monroe with the tractor on the day it was sold back to Fredregill Implement. The postcard-size photo appears to be a sales aid for Fredregill, with Monroe’s testimonial printed on the back.

Monroe said he was first “somewhat dubious” about the tractor.

“It was the first one in Logan County and, as far as I know, the first one in … Colorado,” Monroe said. “It was so far different from anything on the market at the time because it was smaller in size and didn’t look as if it would have the power that the big ones had.”

After a demonstration on his farm, however, Monroe was convinced. The tractor was the main workhorse on Monroe’s 170-acre irrigated farm and was used on the 1,000-acre wheat farm. Through the years a few parts had to be replaced but overall, Monroe testified, “The economy of repairs has been remarkable.”

According to TractorData.com, the two-cylinder John Deere D models between 1923 and 1939 produced 15 horsepower at the drawbar and would handle a 3-bottom, 14-inch plow. The letter designations indicate the level of sophistication of the tractor. A D model is the basic, no-frills tractor, while an R series is a full-feature, “fully-loaded” tractor. Today, John Deere uses a combination of numbers and letters to denote both size (numbers from 1** for garden tractors through 9*** for the articulated behemoths) and letters to denote the level of options.

The 1925 D-model will be permanently displayed in the Overland Trail Museum’s big red barn alongside other vehicles of the past.

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2022-06-24 03:09:33
Boulder Daily Camera

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