Iowa collector honors family heritage with restored traction ditcher

| April 2004

'Gentlemen: As you know, it was quite late in the season when we started to operate our machine. We had only 52 working days. Eighteen jobs were all that we could muster. Our net profits were $589.45. Enclosed please find a photograph of our machine. All the farmers around here stopped digging by hand as soon as they saw the machine work, and everybody wanted us at once, so we have to say that we are very well satisfied with our investment.'

- Early testimonial of customer satisfaction with the Buckeye traction ditcher from Schoenecker & Giesen, New Prague, Minn., Jan. 30, 1911.

Talk to Clarence 'Zip' Mettenburg about fancy new hybrid seed and state-of-the-art farm equipment, and he'll listen with interest. But then he's likely to mention an equally critical component in crop production in the upper Midwest.

'Even with hybrid seed corn and modern machines,' he says, 'if you don't have drainage, you won't maximize your yields.'

Zip hopes to preserve the history of underground agricultural drainage systems by restoring a 70-year-old Buckeye traction ditcher. His goal is to have a Buckeye Model 1 - perhaps even powered by the correct gas engine - in running condition at this year's Midwest Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa (Sept. 2-6).

Zip is in the unique position of owning two similar Buckeyes, one of which he's shown at previous reunions in Mt. Pleasant. Since then, however, in Comer, Ontario, he found a single-cylinder, hit-and-miss 12-hp Garwood gas engine built specifically for use on Buckeye traction ditchers. His goal is to get the Garwood running and install it on one of his two Buckeyes. Then he'll make the unit fully functional with original equipment and put it to work.