Red-Hot Action on the High Plains

| October 2003

Some tractor collectors are specialists, coolly focused on a narrow segment of the hobby. Others like everything they see, no matter what model or manufacturer. Red Gaede was a blend of those two: He never saw a rare tractor he didn't like.

Tractors from the Gaede collection scattered across the country following an estate auction held in July in the eastern Colorado town of Limon. The parade of wannabe buyers arriving at the sale with empty trailers was as steady as the line of grain trucks at the co-op during harvest. Tractor pilgrims came too, happy just to see a collection like Red's.

'It's the chance of a lifetime to see this many rare tractors at one place,' Auctioneer Dennis Polk says. 'It's just unheard of.'

Gaede began collecting tractors just 15 years ago. When he started, his daughter, Beth Gaede, recalls, Red was interested in the tractors he'd used as a youth. 'At the beginning, it was all common tractors,' she says. 'But he was the kind of guy who had to be the best at the game, so before long he was into rare and unusual tractors, and high-crops. He loved his high-crops and his Lindemans.'

The lengthy sale bill listed several rare tractors. '1 of 27,' '1 of 6,' '1 of 2.' 'When I say 'sold',' Polk cajoled the crowd on auction day, 'where are you going to find another one?' Gaede always focused on the rare ones. 'If he thought a piece was undervalued, he would go for it,' Beth remembers. 'Sometimes, if it was a John Deere and he really wanted it, he would pay more for it. But he really wanted the unique pieces.'

Gaede treated his hobby like a business. 'He kept very detailed records on his collection, and he studied the manuals and books for hours,' Beth says. 'He networked with collectors all over the nation to learn more about (the hobby). He also viewed the collection as an investment.'