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Steam and Gas Engine Show honours agricultural machinery mainstay



by Adam Gault

Celebrating the important role steam and gas engines have played in the progression and development of agricultural practices, the 34th annual show was hosted at the Essex County Steam and Gas Engine Museum, located adjacent to Co-An Park in McGregor, this past weekend.

  The 2018 show highlighted more than one hundred years of mechanical history, as well as paid special tribute to an equipment manufacture that has grown from humble beginnings to a household name in not just North America, but across the globe.

  “This year the main feature tractor is John Deere,” Gary Struhar explained, who is the President of the Essex County Steam and Gas Engine Museum. “One hundred years ago is when the John Deere Corporation got into the tractor business.”

  Struhar said what really helped put the iconic green brand on the map was the development of a polished moldboard, which allowed their tractors the versatility of plowing in the sandy east coast areas and the more wet clay fields that are found further west, towards the Iowa farmland, and beyond.

  “John Deere, he perfected a polished moldboard, and the clay just cleaned away, and that’s what got him in business,” Struhar said. “From there on, he was a perfectionist. His quality always went into everything, and that’s what John Deere’s about.”

  Throughout the weekend, tractor and engine enthusiasts had the opportunity to get up close and personal with nearly 200 tractors and machines of all sizes and colours, as well as some intricate steam engines that were operational and on display from the late Victorian Era.

  “Our purpose is to educate the public, to show them what the past is about, that’s our mission,” Struhar explained. “A lot of people come out here and are amazed at what we have. We are the best kept secret in the county. We don’t open up much, we do by appointment. We’ve got a lot of stuff we can show, but we just keep quiet about it.”

  Contrary to those claims, Saturday morning was anything but quiet for the Museum, as roughly 50 tractors of all eras of mechanical farming made their way down Walker Road in McGregor as part of the show’s annual tractor parade, enchanting all onlookers. The sweeping sense of nostalgia surely took many of the older parade attendees back-in-time, to a bygone era of agriculture that was the way of life for them, and many others in the region.

  “When I retire next year, I’d like to at least open up two days a week,” Struhar said of his plans for the Museum’s foreseeable future. “There’s a lot of history here.”

  For more information on the

Essex County Steam and Gas Engine Museum, or to learn about volunteer opportunities, essexsteamandgasengine.com

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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