A Home for Horse-Drawn Implements

Riseo Agricultural Museum filled with horse-drawn implements

| September 2000

It seems only fitting that fields of corn grow high as an "elephant's eye" within arm's length of the two buildings where David Rieso keeps his collection of horse-drawn farm implements. In fact, the Riseo Agricultural Museum, in western Illinois near New Athens (pronounced with a long "a"), holds hundreds of items related to corn cultivation, as well as countless items from the horse-drawn era in farm history. 

David began collecting horse-drawn farm implements and machines in 1975, when he attended a nearby auction. His father, Earl Rieso, mentioned that a horse-drawn cultivator would be for sale at the auction. David went over and won the cultivator with a bid of $15. "After that first auction, Dad and I just kinda fell into it, and I started reading the classifieds," David says. "If anything was written about farm equipment being for sale, I'd be there."

For more than 20 years, David attended auctions or farm shows around Illinois every weekend. When he wasn't at the sales, or at his job as a dump truck driver, he could be found in his workshop on the farm, rebuilding and restoring his treasures.

When the pieces were ready to display, Earl tagged them for museum display. For example, the tag for a 1929 Model AA Ford truck reads "Goes back to the days when they hauled wheat away from threshing machines."

When David bought the Ford in 1977 (for $1,050), it needed complete renovation.

"Nothing worked," he says. "It was pitiful."