GENESEO — A birthday party and reunion planned at the Antique Engine & Tractor Association’s 58th annual Working Farm Show will be a “dream come true” for Loren and Ruth Book of Nevada, Iowa.
The event will celebrate the birthday of Moline Plow Company’s Universal tractor, which, along with the Case tractor, is being featured at this year’s show.
Book said the reunion is the “first-ever" featuring Moline Plow Company products. The search to find Universal tractor owners and collectors with Moline Plow memorabilia has been ongoing for two years, he said.
“We aren’t sure how many will come for the reunion, but the excitement and interest has been building,” he said. “We are looking forward to a grand reunion and birthday celebration of the Universal tractor that replaced the horse, the Flying Dutchman plow that set the highest standards and blew the competition out of the water, and the legacy and history of the fascinating Moline Plow Company.”
He and his wife own five Universal tractors made by the Moline Plow Company in Rock Island in addition to numerous implements and horse equipment, including the Flying Dutchman plow, which Book said “put the Moline Plow Company on the map as a leading plow manufacturer.”
Collecting and promoting the legacy of antique tractors has been a big part of the couple’s lives.
“My father was a Minneapolis-Moline dealer in Nevada, Iowa, in the 1950s, so I grew up with the prairie gold M-M,” he said. “However, the predecessor to M-M is what grabbed my attention and eventually led to this MPCo reunion.”
“The first time my wife and I saw a Moline Universal tractor was at a Baraboo, Wis., show some years ago,” he said. “That tractor intrigued me, and I put it on my list of tractors that I wanted to collect.”
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He eventually bought a Moline Universal on eBay. ”Then two showed up in Canada, and then there were three in our shed,” he said.
It was then that he began to dream about an all-MPCo show featuring the Universal tractor, something that had never before been done. ”That dream is coming true as the AE&TA approved my proposal to co-feature the Moline Plow Company at their show Sept. 13-15,” he said.
In 2017, Book and his wife, along with other collectors, formed the show committee, and Book said, “We are presently in contact with 35 owners of Universal tractors models B, C, D and E, plus Moline Plow Company implements, cars or memorabilia, who are seriously considering bringing items to the ... show.”
The AE&TA show grounds outside of Geneseo are about 20 miles from the former Moline Plow Company factory in Rock Island where the tractors were produced.
“Bill Ellis, another MPCo enthusiast from Moline, and I visited the factory site in 2010 and found some buildings still standing,” Book said. “Today there is nothing left, although for the upcoming show, we will have a map available for touring the area, explaining historical reference points.”
MPCo committee members worked with Meredith Peterson at the Rock Island Historical Society to create interest in the Quad-Cities and Book said, “An impressive display of rare memorabilia is currently on display at the RICHS.”
“We think it is about time this company was recognized,” he said.