NEVADA, Iowa — For Loren Book, Minneapolis-Moline isn’t just a company, it’s part of his family.
Loren was born in 1946, and three years later his father, Don Book, took an opportunity to become a Minneapolis-Moline dealer in Nevada, Iowa.
“I grew up in dad’s local dealership,” Loren said. “We farmed with Minneapolis-Moline, and when it came time to collect something, Minneapolis-Moline was my childhood. It’s back to my heritage and my roots.”
On the farm, he and his wife, Ruth, have numerous Minneapolis-Moline and Moline Plow Company tractors and implements. The pair have also turned one of their barns into a museum dedicated to Minneapolis-Moline heritage, with parts, memorabilia, and all sorts of historic items. They have the museum open by appointment, and said people often spend a couple hours looking at the items representing the history of the company.
Ruth joked that with the work of keeping up the collection, she always knows where Loren is when he’s not in the house.
“In retirement, that’s what I do,” Loren said. “I spend a lot of time tinkering and keeping everything running. We are going to have a day this month where a nephew or two will show up and we will get everything out and running. An idle tractor is not good. You need to run them.”
The Minneapolis-Moline company officially began as a merger between three companies in 1929. Minneapolis Steel and Machinery, Minneapolis Threshing Machine Company and the Moline Plow Company all came together to form the historic brand that lasted until it was acquired in 1963 by White Motor Company, which also owned the Oliver brand. The Minneapolis-Moline name was last used in 1974.
With the brand no longer in production, Loren said having the museum can help people learn about its history or jog memories for some of the older visitors. One project he is particularly proud of is the Arthur Jensen photo collection, which was a joint effort between the Minneapolis-Moline collectors and the Minnesota Historical Society to preserve company photos.
Jensen was a commercial photographer for the Minneapolis-Moline Company from 1935 through the 1950s. In 1975, he donated his collection of photos to the Minnesota Historical Society, and in 1999 a group of enthusiasts in the Minneapolis-Moline Collectors group cataloged 2,000 of the 21,000 negatives into a photo collection.
“Jensen took most of the photos that showed up in advertising,” Loren said.
Ruth said being a part of the national Minneapolis-Moline Collectors group has been a great experience as they are all of a like mind appreciating the products of MM. The organization wants to preserve its legacy and educate the public on the Minneapolis-Moline contribution to agriculture history.
The group also sponsors a scholarship and preservation grant to encourage the next generation to learn about the tractors and company that made them. Information and applications are on the club’s website, www.minneapolismolinecollectors.org.
“We want to educate the public,” Ruth said. “Young people have not grown up with these tractors. Minneapolis-Moline was at the forefront of the ag revolution.”
Ruth said the interest isn’t just limited to the Midwest either. The Books and other MM collectors often correspond with people from other countries where the machines were exported by the MM company over the years.