Aficionados take a leisurely ride back in time

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Vintage tractor club makes 6-hour rumble through the Palouse at putt-putt pace

Eleven men stretched their vintage tractors’ legs for a more-than-30-mile excursion Saturday on rural southeastern Whitman County roads.

The procession, hosted by the Lewis-Clark Antique Power Club, started in Johnson at 10 a.m. Saturday and ended in the same town later that day after a scenic loop through the rolling hills of the Palouse.

At about a 10-mph pace, the pack rumbled through Colton and continued south on Busch Road to start the loop.

Gary Simpson, a club board member, led the tractor drive in his red 1944 McCormick-Deering Farmall. A small trailer full of necessities for the trip was attached to the back of the World War II-era rig.

Simpson said the purpose is to simply take the old tractors out for a spin and enjoy the countryside.

“It’s kind of like riding a motorcycle except really slow, so you can enjoy the scenery and you don’t have to worry about falling over,” he said with a laugh.

He said the 30 to 35-mile trek has been held several times in the past but not on an annual basis.

A few trucks trailed the 11 riders. One of which hauled a portable restroom so the men could take bathroom breaks. After all, the journey lasts about six hours from start to finish.

Roger Becker, another Lewis-Clark Antique Power Club member, followed right behind Simpson — at least to start — in his orange 1939 Allis Chalmers Model B tractor.

He said the completely restored four cylinder, three speed “runs as well as you can see it.”

“I just love this tractor,” Becker said.

He said he runs the 80-year-old tractor quite a bit, including in about seven parades each year.

“I don’t get it very dirty,” Becker said. “If it’s raining, snowing or anything else, I wouldn’t come.”

But on a pleasant partly cloudy day like Saturday , he was ready to roll.

Everett Martin, a retired Washington State University professor and member of the club, fired up his 1955 John Deere for the ride. He said he believes he has driven in every one of the Johnson tractor drives.

Martin said he loves the camaraderie with fellow tractor enthusiasts.

“We jaw a little bit about which is the better (tractor),” he said.

Ken Foertsch drove down Saturday morning from Medical Lake, Wash., outside Spokane to cruise in his 1955 John Deere — a Wheatland/Standard special, which is different than Martin’s.

Foertsch said fewer than 3,000 of his type of tractor were ever made and only about 600 of them were high-seat tractors like his.

By Garrett Cabeza, Moscow Pullman Daily News, May 20, 2019

Picture: Kai Eiselein/Daily News

Dick Johnson drives his John Deere 630 during a 40-mile loop through the hills of the Palouse with the Lewis-Clark Antique Power Club on Saturday morning.