| September/October 1981

Steam tractor

Steam tractor in Russell County, Kansas

Machines that helped change the American farm scene are featured in an exhibition open through November 1 at the National Museum of American History, part of the. Smithsonian Institution, at Washington, D.C.

Many of the items displayed in 'The Changing American Farm' exhibit are familiar to IMA readers. Some of our subscribers are old enough to remember the early implements which were handed down from their forebears and all are young enough to have seen the development of the gigantic new machines that are in use today.

The show commemorates the 150th anniversary of the invention of the reaper in Virginia by Cyrus McCormick. A grant from International Harvester made the show possible.

'Ever since John Deere introduced his 'singing plow,' which has boosted plowing capability by a factor of 10, American farming has undergone a tremendous growth and change,' says John T. Schle-becker, curator who organized the exhibition. The 'singing plow' name was given the Deere invention because it seemed to hum as it sped across the prairie.

McCormick's 1831 reaper could harvest 8 acres a day; an International Harvester Axial-Flow combine can harvest 100 acres of wheat in one day, or 50 acres of corn.

Near the exhibition, on the same floor, are additional examples of farm machinery. One of these is a Huber steam traction engine, donated to the Smithsonian several years ago by the A. F. Brandt family of Bainbridge, Pennsylvania.