Tractors tour areas inundated by 1993 flood

A total of 63 old tractors rumbled through the back roads of Callaway County along the Missouri River during the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society’s eighth annual Vintage Tractor Drive.

The old tractors gathered at the New Bloomfield Lions Club Park where participants ate breakfast before traveling Callaway County back roads to the Tebbetts Community Center for cookies and refreshments.

The trip continued west along the Missouri River toward the former Cedar City area. Along the way, tractor drivers noticed flags had been erected at various points.

Rodney Garnett, the lead tractor driver, told the group he had placed the flags for the event to indicate the depth of flood waters during the record flood of 1993.

“I checked with local land owners to determine the height of the water at various points along the river,” Garnett said.

Garnett is a former Callaway County commissioner and John Deere implement dealer.

After stopping at the Tebbetts Community Center for refreshments, the group traveled along the Missouri River to north Jefferson city for a pork steak lunch and then headed back to New Bloomfield for ice cream in the afternoon.

During lunch, the group watched a video of the 1993 Missouri River flood.

The entire round trip through southern Callaway County from New Bloomfield to Tebbetts, Cedar City and back to New Bloomfield covered a distance of 43.2 miles.

Barb Huddleston, Callaway County Historical Society curator, said Saturday’s event was an excellent opportunity for friends and tractor enthusiasts to spend some time together.

This year the tractor drive commemorated the 20th anniversary of record flood on the Missouri River. The route covered much of the devastated area along the river.

Huddleston said the driver and owner of the oldest vintage tractor in the event was Kenneth L. Martin of New Bloomfield. He drove a 1939 Farmall H tractor.

“The first Farmall H tractor was made in 1939,” Martin said, “This tractor is a 1939 model with the identification marked on the side.”

Martin, who works at Harbison Walker Refractories in Fulton, collects antique tractors.

“I have eight old tractors — four John Deere and four International Harvester Farmall tractors,” Martin said.

Most of the old tractors participating in Saturday’s event were restored and repainted.

Bench seats with canopies or umbrellas were mounted on the rear of some of the tractors to allow passengers to ride along in comfort in the 90-degree heat on Saturday.

Other tractors towed trailers with seats for passengers to enjoy the leisurely 43-mile trip through the Callaway County countryside along the river.

But some, including the Thompson family of New Bloomfield, shared the trip by each driving their own tractor.

At age 77, Norman Thompson was one of the oldest drivers participating in the event. He drove a Farmall H tractor.

His daughter Dana drove a Farmall B, his son David drove a Farmall MD diesel, and his nephew Steve Thompson drove a Farmall 806 diesel.

Huddleston said tractor drivers from around Missouri participated in Saturday’s event. Most of them transported tractors to the event on truck beds.

The vintage tractor driver who traveled the longest distance was Brian Bruns of Jackson in Southeast Missouri. He drove a 1944 Farmall H tractor.

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