Melroe Tractor Building
This building shares the rich history of American agricultural innovation. It features many manufacturers including Case, Hart-Parr, Rumley and Allis Chalmers. J.I. Case was a prolific steam engine builder. Steam engines were heated by a variety of fuels ranging from wood to coal, or even straw. Two of the earliest steam engines built by Case are in this building. Case was also well-known as a pioneer in selling machinery on farmer’s credit. Case representatives had what farmers needed, and would sell to them on the basis that they would make further payments.
Charles Hart and Charls Parr formed the Hart-Parr Corporation while still in college. Their dreams of “modernizing farming” helped them produce their first tractor in 1902. By 1907 a third of all tractors in use came from their factories. These tractors were made in LaPort, IN, and were called “hit or miss” because they fired on operator demand. The early models had flywheels that weighed a ton.
The M. Rumley Company produced the first Oil Pull tractor that ran on kerosene. The tractors got this name because the exhaust was cooled by 50 or 55 gallons of oil, depending on the model. They had two speeds, forward at 1.9 mph or reverse. Rumleys were on of the big movers that broke virgin ground in this part of the country. They weren’t small machines; their Model E weighed about 23,000 pounds. The last Rumley model was ahead of its time, with six cylinders and 50 horsepower. In 1931, Rumley was sold to Allis Chalmers. The Allis Chalmers Company was formed in 1901 with the merger of the companies of Edward Allis and William Chalmers.
Hundred of companies built tractors—some were successful and some were not. Some of the other tractors on display include the Fordsons of Henry ford, McCormic Deering and its successor International Harvester, Olivers and Co-ops.