Dawn and I drove to tiny Roann in northern Indiana to see its covered bridge and nearby historic grist mill, and found to our surprise that it was the weekend of the town’s annual Covered Bridge Festival. All of the trappings were present: carnival rides, food booths, and a parade featuring fire trucks from a five-county radius. Big doings in small-town Indiana!
The best part was the antique-tractor pull. I’m absolutely not a guy you’ll find at the fairgrounds on Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! with a lite beer in hand watching multi-engined, fire-breathing, smoke-belching megatractors. But it was undeniably charming to watch this motorsport in its elemental form: everyday people from rural Indiana who brought their antique tractors to compete at a small-town pull track.
I followed one woman driving her 1950s Farmall from start to finish. Here she is, queued up and waiting her turn.
She drove onto the track and backed up to the weight. I’m sure there’s an official name for the contraption she pulled, but I’m not hip to the lingo.
Then she was poised and ready to start pulling.
As she made her way down the track, I zoomed out to take in as much as my camera could see. The fellow reclining in the back was the official scorekeeper. I guess the object was to see how far each tractor could drag this weight down the track.
More tractors were queued up behind her. Here are the next three to go. It must be comfortable to lean forward and rest a forearm on the steering wheel.
This Allis-Chalmers got its turn soon enough.
As did this beautiful Cockshutt 40. Its style reminds me of the Streamline Moderne design movement from the 1930s, but these tractors were first built in 1949.
I have no idea who won. I barely understood how this whole competition worked! But it was great to see this old iron put to the stress test.
When I was a boy, my dad worked at the Oliver tractor factory. Read about it.
Last updated on 15 March 2020 by Jim Grey