Young And Old Come To Ottawa For Educational Fun Experiencing Powerful Farm Life Of Yesteryear

Down the Draw

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Power of the past came to life as fun and education for the young and more mature at Ottawa.
It was the 26th annual show sponsored by the Power of the Past Antique Engine & Tractor Association.
Franklin County Convention & Visitors Bureau and Integrity Insurance Agency, Inc., were co-sponsors for three days of activities.
“Home of Warner Manufacturing and Union Foundry, Ottawa was the ideal place for a show like this in Forest Park,” declared Bob Eichenberger.
An enthusiastic association promoter from Pomona, Eichenberger had two International Harvester tractors on display. “I just drove them over one hooked behind the other with a grain wagon also in tow,” Eichenberger said.
“What a perfect opportunity to see the gas and horse-powered farm implements of the past,” Eichenberger insisted. “When all the engines are chugging at once it is pretty amazing.”
With the passage of time, many of the younger generation have never seen or experienced farm life in its heyday. To fulfill this educational void, a number of area teachers brought their bright-eyed classroom students to the activities.
“It was a great learning experience,” Eichenberger said.
Each morning opened with presentation of the national anthem, and there was live music throughout the show.
As enthusiastic as the younger set perhaps even more so were the adults in attendance.
Literally dozens if not hundreds of golf carts and ATVS owned and rented by spectators made viewing the show easier. Likewise, tractor drawn trams provided ready convenience to tour activities.
International Tractors were featured at this year’s show but nearly every brand and model of tractors and engines were there.
All the tractors, engines, and machinery displayed were identified by brand, model, age, history, and ownership.
The flea market and craft show featured just about everything imaginable from jewelry to hand forged knives to farmers selling used tools.
Participating in the show many years twin brothers Sam and Ben Johnson had Oliver and Farmall tractors as well as a Minneapolis Moline corn sheller on display.
“Our grandfather collected tractors and we’ve just followed family tradition,’ said Sam Johnson of Burlingame.
“We have also become interested in other machinery including this corn sheller I got in South Dakota,” added Ben Johnson of Overland Park.
“We both have jobs off the farm, but our hearts are still in the farming business and its history,” Sam Johnson noted.
Their children are also becoming interested in the antique machinery and are credited with owning some of the pieces that were displayed.
Bill Commons of Topeka was seated on his 1935 McCormick Deering Farmall F20 with a belt attached to the flywheel powering an antique square hay baler. Volunteers had pitchforks in hand pitching straw into the wire-tie machine as others stacked the hay bales.
Carl Herberling of Overbrook displayed his 1935 Rogers Iron Works rock crusher with the belt powered by Eichenberger’s Farmall 450 tractor.
George Toumberlin of Princeton had his 1939 B Allis displayed. “It runs but I have a hard time crank starting it, so I’d sell the tractor today if anybody wants it,” Tourmberlin said. “I collect all kinds of ‘toys,’ tractors, guns, you name it, and enjoy coming looking at all the other equipment.”
Layton Rhudy of Topeka had a “garage sale” display offering old and duplicate wrenches from his shop. “Take your pick for a dollar each,” he invited.
Keith Knabe of Eudora lightened up talking about this year’s show reminiscing he’s been coming for two decades and anticipates attendance.
Bob Coucure of Lane was representing the Free State Blacksmith Club pounding out unique steel crafts like screwdrivers with a coal fired forge. “This is just a hobby, but it’s fun comparing things I make with those of other club members,” Coucure said.
Several dozen handmade knives were displayed by Greg Reed of Mayetta. “Each knife has special steel designs and my insignia,” he said. “These handles are all different some made from elk and deer antlers. I make all the knife sheaths too.”
Ottawa Manufacturing was widely known for manufacturing crosscut saws in the 1920s. Merle Walker of Marquette was manning a display of the saws owned by acquaintances while demonstrating the power sawing logs.
Bob Gabriel of Eudora is uncertain how many International Harvester tractors he has in his collection. “I’d guess 35 or so, but I only brought 12 to display,” he said. “That was a major job getting them cleaned up, hauling them, and taking them all back home.
“Every one of the tractors runs, and they can be put in the field to work, but I only use a couple of them on the farm,” Gabriel said.
Grade school students had the opportunity to operate the cider press and then got to drink a cup of cider they made. Nearby, a dozen students got hands-on experience making rope.
They all seemed to enjoy the kiddie corner and petting zoo offering farm opportunities like they’d never experienced before.
A daily parade of power attracted afternoon spectators while there were twice daily threshing demonstrations powered by steam engines.
Among other working demonstrations were a sawmill, shingle mill, and silage blowing. The ladies hoe throw, and skillet toss Saturday afternoon, and garden tractor pull Sunday garnered much excitement.
Food is an important part of any country affair with a variety of vendors on the grounds. Those featuring homemade ice cream cranked with an antique engine were among the most popular. Of course, the free ham and bean supper Friday evening drew large attendance.
“If you missed the Power of the Past Show this year, mark your calendars for the second weekend of September for the next five years,” Eichenberger encouraged.
Feature tractors and engines for those shows include John Deere, 2023; Massy Harris, 2024; Oliver, 2025; Allis Chalmers, 2026; and Case, 2027.

CUTLINES

Bob Eichenberger, Pomona, backed up his International Harvester tractor to adjust tightness of the belt powering a rock crusher displayed by Carl Herberling of Overbrook.
Carl Herberling of Overbrook displayed his 1935 Rogers Iron Works rock crusher with the belt powered by Eichenberger’s Farmall 450 tractor.
Sam and Ben Johnson had Oliver and Farmall tractors as well as a Minneapolis Moline corn sheller on display at the Power of the Past Show in Ottawa. Jamie Johnson is the next generation of Johnsons interested in antique machinery.

Big rocks were crushed into road gravel when Bob Eichenberger belted his tractor to Carl Herberling’s rock crusher at the Power of the Past in Ottawa.
This steel wheeled Farmall attracted lots of inspection at the Power of the Past in Ottawa.
Bill Commons of Topeka was seated on his 1935 McCormick Deering Farmall F20 with a belt attached to the flywheel powering an antique square hay baler.
A stationary wire tie hay baler was demonstrated at the Power of the Past in Ottawa.
George Toumberlin of Princeton had his 1939 B Allis displayed at the Power of the Past. “I collect all kinds of ‘toys,’ tractors, guns, you name it, and enjoy coming looking at all the other equipment.”
A corn sheller was demonstrated at the Power of the Past in Ottawa.
Layton Rhudy of Topeka had a “garage sale” display offering old and duplicate wrenches from his shop.
Bob Coucure of Lane was representing the Free State Blacksmith Club pounding out unique steel crafts with a coal fired forge.
Ottawa Manufacturing was widely known for manufacturing crosscut saws in the 1920s. Merle Walker of Marquette was manning a display of the saws owned by acquaintances while demonstrating the power sawing logs.
Several dozen handmade knives were displayed by Greg Reed of Mayetta. “Each knife has special steel designs and my insignia,” he said.
Ice cream cranked with an antique engine was a popular cooling off stop at the Power of the Past.
Mr. and Mrs. Carl Eichenberger of Pomona drove a cart around to view exhibits at the Power of the Past.
Keith Knabe of Eudora lightened up talking about this year’s Power of the Past Show reminiscing he’s been coming for two decades and anticipates attendance.

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