Minneapolis-Moline Prairie Gold Tractors

Prairie gold Minneapolis-Moline tractors stand in a class by themselves

| December 2011

Gold: A precious metal; The color of kings and royalty. The color of vast fields of ripe wheat shimmering under the bright sun and cloudless skies of the prairie states.
Prairie Gold: The color Minneapolis-Moline selected for its machines to differentiate them from other manufacturers’ equipment.

Bright colored tractors adorned fields beginning in the late 1930s. Even then, tractor manufacturers used design and color to set their products apart. Farmers felt considerable loyalty toward various tractor brands, and manufacturers did not want anyone to confuse their product with that of another line. Because of the design and color combination, most farmers soon learned to identify tractor brands in a quick glance.

For instance, Farmall was all red with silver wheel rims. John Deere was Granny Smith apple green with bright yellow wheels. Olivers were clad in dark green with red wheels. Massey-Harris chose bright red with yellow wheels. Allis-Chalmers used Persian red. Minneapolis-Moline stood out with Prairie Gold paint on the sheet metal and a blood-red tone on the wheels and radiator grille.

Both sides of the family

At today’s antique tractor shows, those golden tractors still stand out. In 2010, the Farm Days show in Mount Gilead, Ohio, featured Minneapolis-Moline. Among the exhibitors were Dale and Debbie Elder, Clarks Mills, Pa., showing a 1937 Model Z row-crop and a 1940 Model R standard with cab.

The Elders brought along mascots as well and those generated plenty of attention – especially “Uncle Harry” driving the row-crop tractor. A distinguished looking fellow, Harry sported wire-rimmed glasses, a suit (complete with white shirt and tie) and straw hat. Driving the standard tread Model R was another mannequin dressed as a farmer in bib overalls and ball cap.

Debbie explained that the blood running in the Elders’ veins is not red but gold – Prairie Gold. Debbie’s grandfather, Bob Peterman, began selling the Minneapolis-Moline line out of his gas station in Sheakleyville, Pa., in the 1940s. A few years later, he quit and Dale’s uncle, Harry Elder, took over, selling the line from his father’s farm. Before long, he moved the operation to Clarks Mills. His brother, Don, ran the parts department and another brother, Harold, was the lead mechanic.