Museum showcases evolution of tractors

Justin Hotop

Get ready to go back in time.
The American Tractor Museum — located in the same building as the Catalyst Center for Business near downtown Perryville — will hold its grand opening from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 8.
Perry County Heritage Tourism Director Trish Erzfeld says she is excited for the debut of the museum, which she says, showcases the “evolution of the tractor.”
“Before there were Massey-Fergusons, they were two separate tractor companies that merged,” Erzfeld said. “That’s the type of examples of the stories we try to tell with the museum. It’s really cool to see how the machine changed into what we recognize as a tractor today.”
Kenny Buchheit and Arley Berkbuegler were the driving force behind the museum as many of the tractors came from Buchheit’s collection and Berkbuegler restored many of the older models that are in the museum.
There are some one-of-a-kind machines on display including a 1911 Avery Steam Engine and an old Threshing machine from Cape Girardeau that Erzfeld said is the only model of its kind that she knows of. There also a pair of Oliver tractors that was used in the feature film “Walk the Line.”
“We have a lot of machines that are one-of-five in existence or one of three in the country, so there are some pretty special things back there,” Erzfeld said.
However, the many models of what we know as a tractor are on display, as there is also a large collection pedal tractors that were brought in by Richard Moldenhauer. Erzfeld is happy that such a collection of agriculture history will be on display in Perryville for all to enjoy.
“I’m thrilled that this is here and we are able to showcase portions of our history,” Erzfeld said. “Perry County has such deep agricultural roots and to know that the state soil was named for Menfro which of part of the county is significant,” Erzfeld said. “The tractor is another piece of that heritage.”
The museum will also have a feature tractor which they will change out periodically. Currently on display is a tractor owned by Jerry Davis of Perryville.
While the grand opening is just a few weeks away, Erzfeld noted there are plans to make the museum even better.
“We have plans in the works to expand,” she said. “There are about 35 more tractors that we hope to be able to put on display. But for right now, we just want every one to come down and see what we have.”


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