Located near downtown Perryville, the American Tractor Museum showcases a collection of immaculately restored antique farm tractors and displays of older Americana from farming in bygone days.
Although a step up from using horse, mule or ox teams, most of these tractors would be pretty hard to use compared to today’s air conditioned or heated tractors with power steering.
Open for about six months, with about 60 tractors on display and with more in his collection store elsewhere, Kenny Buchheit says that his favorite tractor is the “last one that I buy."
Asked why he collected tractors, Buchheit says, “You have one, then you have to have the second one. How come you have two tractors? Then the third one…”
Already gaining attention, the location has been visited by Mecum Auctions, famous for collector auto and tractor auctions. RFD-TV also has plans to visit the museum.
According to Buchheit, the establishment is not only his equipment.
“We have the feature tractor that changes every month. It’s a local tractor," he said. "The River Eagles Tractor Club, they have somebody from their club that wants to showcase their family’s tractor. Some of them are redone and some are just right out of the field. Each one has a real story to tell.”
Most of these tractors are fairly rare items, with some of them being the only one known to exist. Buchheit explained the reason behind the rarity.
“How the tractor industry started, somebody had an idea and a lot of it was done in blacksmith’s shops,” he said. “They were in an area where they could get casting done relatively easily. It just evolved from there.”
Buchheit has collected these items for about 20 years and says he has been all over the country east of the Rocky Mountains, including the Dakotas, New York and Florida, along with Texas and the Carolinas.
He is also still adding to his collection.
“If the right thing came by,” he said. “The big auction companies let us know if there is something we are interested in.
"We’re getting quite a bit of interest in people — when their ancestors pass — they have stuff they wouldn’t necessarily want to sell, but put on display. They donate it to the museum, it’s a non-profit organization; they can get a tax deduction. Then we can showcase their family items.”
The American Tractor Museum is located at 508 N. Main Street in Perryville.
The museum is open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays require advance notice with a group of people. The museum is currently closed on Sundays. For more information, contact 573-547-1097 or americantractormuseum.com.
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Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at email@example.com