On Saturday I rode from Oubache State Park to a private campground near Richmond, Indiana. It was an 80 mile ride, second longest of the year for me. Towards the end, I ended up on Arba Road, which was the first road that European-American settlers built between Richmond and Fort Wayne. It’s relatively quiet now, [...]
This photo of a CO-OP tractor taken August 3, 2010, promises to have been the start of some upcoming Spokesriding adventures. As I explained back in 2010 in a post titled “CO-OP Tractor“, I happened upon the tractor early in a ride that began at Prophetstown State Park near West Lafayette, Indiana.
My curiosity was aroused when I learned that earlier models of the tractor had been built in my hometown of Battle Creek, Michigan. I also wanted to know how a co-operative manufacturing system would have worked.
Recently I’ve been able to learn more, thanks to the help of some antique tractor enthusiasts, newspaper archives, and other archived manuscript materials. I’m going to save most of it for later when I have photos to go along with it. To get the photos I’ll need to go on some bike rides, including a few local destinations and a couple in the thumb area of Michigan. Some antique tractor shows might be in order, too, if I can learn of any where the older CO-OP tractors will be shown. But first the snow and ice need to melt off of the roads.
Another good bike ride could be made out of the route a couple of the first tractors took on a demonstration tour in 1935. Two of the first tractors were driven (not hauled) to Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and then Great Falls, Montana, before returning by a different route to St Paul, Minnesota – for a total of nearly 6000 miles, according to one account. I’m not sure I want to make a bike ride out of that, but it’s an intriguing possibility. Some of it would take me near places where I have other reasons to go riding, anyway.
This newspaper clipping is from the November 7, 1936 issue of Michigan Farm News (and is provided courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center of the Michigan State University Libraries). It shows one of the tractors that was built in Battle Creek, and will have to do until I get photos of my own.
The article lists a number of places in Michigan where the tractor went on tour that year: Charlotte, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Paw Paw, Lawrence, Hartford, Eau Claire, Buchanan, Niles, Marcellus, Three Rivers, Constantine, Coldwater, Litchfield, Jonesville, Albion, Marshall, Plainwell, Allegan, Hamilton, Hudsonville, Holland, Bryon Center, Dorr, Middleville, Hastings, Lansing, Ithaca, Mt Pleasant, Barryton, Big Rapids, Stanwood, White Cloud, Fremont, Brunswick, Shelby, Hart, and Scottville. My bicycle has already been to most of those towns. The exceptions are Barryton and a few other places up in that part of Michigan. If I knew which farms were used as demo sites (if it was indeed demo’d out in the field at all these places) those would make interesting tour/photo destinations. I do have one such site on my list of destinations for this coming season, where the event was covered by the Battle Creek newspapers. But I’m not sure looking for that kind of information for other towns would be a worthwhile quest.
Even without that, I should be able to get several good rides out of this topic. And believe it or not, the story of the CO-OP tractor in Battle Creek has a connection of sorts to the Black Hawk war – one that leads back to Lafayette, Indiana, near where this topic got started. I’ll save it for later, when I get photos to go with it.