International Harvester Museum Brought to Life

Jerry Mez's Farmall-Land museum

| August 2009

  • This relatively simply built workhorse, an International 1206, is Jerry Mez’s favorite tractor. He is shown here with his wife, Joyce.
    This relatively simply built workhorse, an International 1206, is Jerry Mez’s favorite tractor. He is shown here with his wife, Joyce.
    Courtesy Renander Photos
  • Jerry likes the IH 1206 so much that he had a miniature one built.
    Jerry likes the IH 1206 so much that he had a miniature one built.
    Courtesy Renander Photos
  • The Farmall-Land museum is a landmark in western Iowa.
    The Farmall-Land museum is a landmark in western Iowa.
    Courtesy Renander Photos
  • A few of the 1,000 farm toys in the Farmall-Land museum.
    A few of the 1,000 farm toys in the Farmall-Land museum.
    Courtesy Renander Photos
  • Case New Holland Inc. loaned this International 5488 all-wheel drive tractor to the Mez museum for display during the 2009 season.
    Case New Holland Inc. loaned this International 5488 all-wheel drive tractor to the Mez museum for display during the 2009 season. Never sold, this tractor was the last one off the line at the Rock Island, Ill., IH plant at the time the plant closed.
    Courtesy Joyce Mez
  • One of Jerry’s favorite tractors in the museum is this IH 4300 in construction colors.
    One of Jerry’s favorite tractors in the museum is this IH 4300 in construction colors.
    Bill Vossler
  • One of the featured tractors of the 2009 season at Farmall-Land museum: the first Farmall Regular sold in row-crop configuration.
    One of the featured tractors of the 2009 season at Farmall-Land museum: the first Farmall Regular sold in row-crop configuration.
    Courtesy Renander Photos
  • IH made many different products during its reign, including this IH Scout.
    IH made many different products during its reign, including this IH Scout.
    Courtesy Renander Photos
  • A forerunner of the skid-steer loader, the Honeybee has a loader on the rear.
    A forerunner of the skid-steer loader, the Honeybee has a loader on the rear. Its controls face the rear, so the operator generally used the machine backward.
    Courtesy Renander Photos
  • Part of the museum’s collection of IH lawn and garden tractors.
    Part of the museum’s collection of IH lawn and garden tractors.
    Courtesy Renander Photos
  • International Harvester made this M-1 rifle in the 1950s.
    International Harvester made this M-1 rifle in the 1950s.
    Courtesy Joyce Mez
  • The pink Farmall H pedal tractor is one of a pair of pink models marketed to men, allowing them to buy a toy for the women and girls in their lives.
    The pink Farmall H pedal tractor is one of a pair of pink models marketed to men, allowing them to buy a toy for the women and girls in their lives.
    Courtesy Renander Photos
  • Jerry’s pedal tractors on display.
    Jerry’s pedal tractors on display.
    Courtesy Joyce Mez
  • Jerry with his father’s F-20, the tractor that got him to start thinking about a museum.
    Jerry with his father’s F-20, the tractor that got him to start thinking about a museum.
    Courtesy Joyce Mez

  • This relatively simply built workhorse, an International 1206, is Jerry Mez’s favorite tractor. He is shown here with his wife, Joyce.
  • Jerry likes the IH 1206 so much that he had a miniature one built.
  • The Farmall-Land museum is a landmark in western Iowa.
  • A few of the 1,000 farm toys in the Farmall-Land museum.
  • Case New Holland Inc. loaned this International 5488 all-wheel drive tractor to the Mez museum for display during the 2009 season.
  • One of Jerry’s favorite tractors in the museum is this IH 4300 in construction colors.
  • One of the featured tractors of the 2009 season at Farmall-Land museum: the first Farmall Regular sold in row-crop configuration.
  • IH made many different products during its reign, including this IH Scout.
  • A forerunner of the skid-steer loader, the Honeybee has a loader on the rear.
  • Part of the museum’s collection of IH lawn and garden tractors.
  • International Harvester made this M-1 rifle in the 1950s.
  • The pink Farmall H pedal tractor is one of a pair of pink models marketed to men, allowing them to buy a toy for the women and girls in their lives.
  • Jerry’s pedal tractors on display.
  • Jerry with his father’s F-20, the tractor that got him to start thinking about a museum.

Few people sustain a dream for 40 years. Jerry Mez, Avoca, Iowa, is the exception.

The result of his dream is the 26,500-square-foot Farmall-Land museum, dedicated to the machines and history of International Harvester.

“I’ve had this dream of making a museum for over 40 years,” Jerry says. “I started saving tractors with an F-20 35 years ago, because my father told me I should keep one of those old F-20s to show people what he did when he first came to Avoca in 1943. It all evolved from that. I started collecting tractors slowly at first, and it picked up speed from there. My wife, Joyce, says it’s a disease, but I think it’s one of the better ones I could have.”

Building a business

Jerry’s father, Max, taught school for several years until he started working for an IH dealer in Falls City, Neb., during summers and weekends. The work convinced him he should become an IH dealer. “Avoca, Iowa, was an open territory,” Jerry says, “which meant there weren’t any dealers for a range of six to 12 miles around.”

After a stint in the armed services and college, Jerry came back to Avoca to work at the family business, Avoca Implement Co., and eventually take it over from his father. That was when he began to start collecting for the museum, which opened in 2006.

Getting tractors for the collection was never a problem. “People always ask, ‘How did you find all this stuff?’” Jerry explains. “When people know you’re a collector, you don’t have to make many calls. They come to you. The hardest part is saying no. Sometimes the tractors are right next to home.”



On one occasion, a man who lived only 25 miles from Avoca came in and asked for parts for an IH 664 utility tractor. Jerry’s parts man told him there was no such tractor. “The guy just stood there, smiling,” Jerry says, “and said, ‘OK, I’ll be in tomorrow with my parts book for it.’ And sure enough, IH had made a few of those. But we didn’t sell many in this area. It was one of those short-lived things that isn’t even listed as a tractor model in books written about IH.”

While he dreamed about the museum, Jerry stored tractors at area farms‚ fairgrounds and sheds, even parked outside Avoca Implement Co. buildings. Today they’ve found a home. “They’re all in the museum now, fully restored,” he says, 175 red tractors and Cadets, all different variations.



SUBSCRIBE TO FARM COLLECTOR TODAY!

Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

Save Even More Money with our SQUARE-DEAL Plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our SQUARE-DEAL automatic renewal savings plan. You'll get 12 issues of Farm Collector for only $24.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Farm Collector for just $29.95.




Facebook Pinterest YouTube

Classifieds


click me