Heartland Museum Acquires World's Largest Tractor

Maurice Riley, who has volunteered at the Heartland Museum since it opened in 1999, stretches his arms to emphasize Bud's enormity.

“Big Bud” – the world’s largest tractor – joins 32 of its agricultural vehicle brethren in the Heartland Museum’s newly-opened “Big Red Shed.” The exhibition space was constructed last year with Bud in mind, and has separate admission from the Clarion museum’s main collection, now in its fifteenth year. 

The Heartland Museum is open Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., or by appointment (515) – 602 – 6000. The museum’s main collection also has over 40 tractors, amid various other vehicles that range from World War II-era military transports to a 1950s-era bumper car used at Arnold’s Park.

While volunteer Maurice Riley described Big Bud as “a chore to move” – long-distance hauls require two trailers – the tractor was custom-built by the Northern Manufacturing Company of Havre, Montana, as a functional piece of machinery, used for deep-soil plowing by the Rossi Brothers of Bakersfield, California. The tractor measures 14 feet tall; 20 feet, 10 inches wide, and 28 feet 6 inches wide. It is powered by a twin turbo 960-horsepower engines, weighs 135,000 pounds ballasted, and can cover 1.3 acres per minute.

In 1997, it was purchased by brothers Robert and Randy Williams of Big Sandy, Montana, who have placed the tractor on indefinite loan to the Heartland Museum following its time in Independence, Iowa’s Heartland Acres Agribition Center (which has no relation to the similarly-named Heartland Museum). Iowa. Bud’s move from the field to the museum circuit was in part prompted by wear on its custom 8-foot-diameter tires, which had been built by the presently-defunct United Tire Company of Canada, which went bankrupt in 2000.

Other recent additions to the museum are:

An 1880s-era horse-drawn hearse, believed to have original or close-to-original brass fittings and curtains. A black wooden carriage with room for one, the hearse enabled regional clients of Foster’s Funeral Home in Western City to go “out in style,” in the words of Museum volunteer Pam Townsend.  The hearse joins over 20 horse-drawn vehicles on display, including sleighs, buggies, and a mail cart.

A room devoted to local railroad history. Clarion was once served by two lines: the Rock Island, whose restored depot is headquarters for the Clarion Chamber of Commerce, and the Great Western Chicago, which was located at the present site of Hardee’s Restaurant. The room displays pictures and written accounts of Clarion and other Wright County towns’ railways and the people who worked there, a cast of a memorial to local victims of railway accidents, uniforms, original documentation, and model trains.

Read more about the Museum’s recent additions – including a model of the U.S.S. Constitution; 11 model aircraft; and a wall devoted to Woolstock native, Superman actor George Reeves” – in the May 29 issue of the Monitor!