Pioneer Village Features Early Farm Tractors

The early farm tractors on display at Pioneer Village in Minden, Neb., highlight American ingenuity

| February 2011

  • A 1916 Parrett 12-25
    A 1916 Parrett 12-25
  • A 1916 Bull 12-24. At one time, Bull Tractor Co. was one of the largest tractor producers in the U.S.
    A 1916 Bull 12-24. At one time, Bull Tractor Co. was one of the largest tractor producers in the U.S.
  • A 1918 Bates Steel Mule Model D 12-20. The Steel Mule was designed by Albert Bates, who got his start manufacturing wire fence-building machinery.
    A 1918 Bates Steel Mule Model D 12-20. The Steel Mule was designed by Albert Bates, who got his start manufacturing wire fence-building machinery.
  • A 1916 Sandusky 15-35 tractor. The tractor was no bargain, selling for $2,500 in its day ($50,163 in today’s terms).
    A 1916 Sandusky 15-35 tractor. The tractor was no bargain, selling for $2,500 in its day ($50,163 in today’s terms).
  • A 1917 Gray 18-36. The Gray was first sold as the Knapp Farm Locomotive, a nod to the designer, W. Chandler Knapp.
    A 1917 Gray 18-36. The Gray was first sold as the Knapp Farm Locomotive, a nod to the designer, W. Chandler Knapp.
  • A 1929 Rock Island-Heider G2 15-25. The color scheme shown here may not be correct.
    A 1929 Rock Island-Heider G2 15-25. The color scheme shown here may not be correct.
  • A 1919 Frick 12-25 built by a company first known as a manufacturer of steam engines.
    A 1919 Frick 12-25 built by a company first known as a manufacturer of steam engines.
  • A 1918 Allwork 14-28, an exceptionally well built tractor.
    A 1918 Allwork 14-28, an exceptionally well built tractor.
  • A 1920s-vintage Nichols and Shepard 16-32.
    A 1920s-vintage Nichols and Shepard 16-32.
  • Conversion kits transformed the family car into a tractor.
    Conversion kits transformed the family car into a tractor.
  • Conversion kits like this one transformed the family car into a tractor.
    Conversion kits like this one transformed the family car into a tractor.

  • A 1916 Parrett 12-25
  • A 1916 Bull 12-24. At one time, Bull Tractor Co. was one of the largest tractor producers in the U.S.
  • A 1918 Bates Steel Mule Model D 12-20. The Steel Mule was designed by Albert Bates, who got his start manufacturing wire fence-building machinery.
  • A 1916 Sandusky 15-35 tractor. The tractor was no bargain, selling for $2,500 in its day ($50,163 in today’s terms).
  • A 1917 Gray 18-36. The Gray was first sold as the Knapp Farm Locomotive, a nod to the designer, W. Chandler Knapp.
  • A 1929 Rock Island-Heider G2 15-25. The color scheme shown here may not be correct.
  • A 1919 Frick 12-25 built by a company first known as a manufacturer of steam engines.
  • A 1918 Allwork 14-28, an exceptionally well built tractor.
  • A 1920s-vintage Nichols and Shepard 16-32.
  • Conversion kits transformed the family car into a tractor.
  • Conversion kits like this one transformed the family car into a tractor.

If you’ve ever used plastic wrap or trash bags, you can thank a man named Harold Warp. The same could also be said if you’re a fan of rare, vintage tractors.  

Born near Minden, Neb., in 1903, Warp moved to Chicago at age 21 to start a plastic film business with two of his brothers. Known as Warp Bros. Flex-O-Glass, the company began marketing the industry’s first plastic window covering.

In the years that followed, the company also introduced the first plastic food wrap, marketed as “Jiffy Wrap,” and the first plastic garbage bags. Harold Warp held more than 30 patents in plastics, as well as one for an aircraft stall speed indicator.

Using his newfound wealth, Warp began acquiring and preserving historic buildings around his hometown. These became the basis of the Harold Warp Pioneer Village in Minden, Neb., which opened in June 1953. Over the next several years, Warp and his Pioneer Village staff developed the largest collection of Americana in the U.S.



Today, the Pioneer Village complex comprises 26 buildings on 20 acres and more than 50,000 irreplaceable items of history, including 100 early farm tractors, more than 350 antique cars and farm trucks, and hundreds of early farm implements. To Warp’s credit, some of the rarest tractors were collected when they were less than 50 years old. Today those vintage jewels are approaching the century mark. Here are nine Pioneer Village tractor treasures – plus one tractor conversion kit for good measure.

1916 Bull 12-24
Bull Tractor Co., Minneapolis, introduced its first tractor in 1913 with the lightweight three-wheeled Little Bull rated at 5-12 hp. It was one of the first tractors built to replace four horses on a gang plow. Its revolutionary design – compared to the heavyweight tractors of the time – featured one large and one small rear wheel to ride level when plowing. However, the larger of the rear wheels was the only one that was powered.



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