The “pop-pop” of antique John Deere engines has been part of the Iowa landscape for almost a century. And since Deere & Company bought out Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company in 1918, this northeast Iowa town has been known worldwide for production of the green machines.
The John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum opened the beginning of December in Waterloo. Located in a remodeled John Deere building, Manager Dawn Hendershot says it’s the appropriate place for the museum. “In the 1940s, the design and testing for two-cyclinder tractors was located here,” she says. “It’s really the authentic site.”
Current exhibits include “Working the Land,” which traces the evolution of work from people power to the early days of tractors and engines; “Storyline,” which gives a timeline of Deere’s arrival and growth in Waterloo; “Manufacturing,” which follows the production of a historic John Deere tractor from design to assembly; and “Into the World,” how John Deere tractors and engines help people do their work today.
Hendershot says the museum currently displays 19 tractors and seven engines, including 24 interactive exhibits. A film in the museum’s theater gives a great overview of the context of the museum. “It’s been a hit for both adults and kids,” she says. “We’ve had people come and stay all day!” In the future, the museum plans to change out exhibits.
The John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Guided tours are given at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. The cost is $8 for adults ages 13-61; $4 for seniors, John Deere employees and retirees and active-duty military; and free to children 12 and under accompanied by an adult. Guided tours are an additional $2 per visitor.
The Museum Store features a large selection of apparel, toys and collectibles and is open during regular museum hours.
For more information, go to www.johndeere.com/TractorandEngineMuseum or call 319-292-6126.
Van Kooten is a freelance writer from Pella.