Built To Last #14879

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The Story

Out in a country junkyard, an old-fashioned steam tractor sits in high summer weeds. Retired years ago, this is the final stop for this old bull yet it’s still intact. Blue skies are above and it’s a sunny day. There are far worse places to be retired.

Although rare, sometimes old farm machinery like this steam tractor from the pre-gasoline engine era can be found rusting away in neglect. This piece of old steam powered farm equipment was substantially built and could probably be made to run again. But only experienced mechanics can do such a thing. Not many of them deal with steam equipment these days unless they’re enthusiasts. We’re talking very old school here.

I wonder what it looked like brand new and just delivered, ready to work. It must have been some farmer’s pride and joy, not to mention a really big help with all the labor to do on a working farm.

Although they saved labor and having to work with horse teams, there was still coal and ashes to deal with. A gasoline tractor improved things even further for a farmer, so there are good reasons these old workhorses have been left behind. This old bull sits permanently out to pasture, part of a really bygone era.

Like modern farm tractors, the raw power of a steam tractor could be harnessed in other useful ways. There is a power takeoff on the opposite side of this machine to run a leather belt to run other farming implements. I’ve seen steam tractors at historical demonstrations running farm equipment from back in the day such as antique threshers, old combines, and even an old-time sawmill setup.  No matter the vintage, a working tractor is always very useful when there’s real work to be done.

Built To Last is a good title for this picture and it’s very true. This old steam tractor is still here and ready, but time and change itself have taken away its usefulness. In general agriculture, the horse disappeared from regular use first, then these steam powered mechanical replacements came and went too.

If you enjoy old farm equipment and a little bit of history, there’s a gallery of junkyard tractors on this site. Out of all junkyards, ones with old steam powered farm equipment are truly unique and the only chance of seeing an old steam tractor like this one.

Location: rural Blair County, Pennsylvania. Picture and story © Andrew Dierks

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