Antique tractor show plows through Carson Valley this weekend

It all started with a lawn ornament. In 1989, Bill and Doris Ramsden put an old tractor in the yard as a decoration. It was their first piece of antique farm equipment.

Seven years ago, they began collecting old tractors and engines in earnest.

Ramsden's partner in the fifth annual Carson Valley Tractor, Engine, Truck and Farm Show, Dennis Chaney, interested him in the hobby of collecting.

"He's the one who got me started," Ramsden said. "He has a real nice collection."

Ramsden has some 40 tractors and 60 antique engines, two thirds of which actually operate.

"We generally try to run them at least every year," he said.

One of the pieces to be in the tractor show is a meat chopper used to make hamburger in the 1880s in Virginia City. It's got a great big tub and a one-cylinder engine.

The contraption is in good condition and is now working, though it hadn't been operated for 80 years.

Ramsden bought an engine last year that hadn't been touched for 60 years. Built in 1917, it was used to pump water for domestic use on a ranch in the Nevada desert until 1939, when the rancher bought a windmill to do the job.

"We got it running in about an hour," Ramsden said.

At the show, operating equipment - in what Ramsden calls "a working museum" - will be demonstrated, and families with kids will like the tractor rides and the food sold by the Carson Valley Sertoma Club.

Surprisingly, Ramsden said, kids seem to love the show.

"Kids have taken a serious interest in how things were done in 1900 to 1920. They seemed to be interested in the history, and they love the tractor rides."

Six or eight tractors will be giving rides each day of the show, which is set for Aug. 12-13 at the corner of Stephanie Way and Heybourne Road north of Minden.

Tractor pulls provide fun for tractor-owners as well as spectators. Only tractors 1959 and older are eligible to enter the pulls. Tractors are weighed and compete in categories according to their weights.

The idea is to pull a mechanical sled that becomes heavier as it is pulled farther.

"It's competitive, but it's not serious competition," Ramsden said.

For the past two years, bleachers have been installed for the spectators, and they've always been full.

Some 3,000 people visited the show in 1999, about 25 percent more than the previous year. Ramsden expects the show to draw even more people this year.

The show opens each day at 8 a.m. On Saturday, the event is over at 5 p.m. and on Sunday, it closes about mid-afternoon.

Some 40 percent of the people who attend the show are women, Ramsden said. They are interested in history and how domestic chores were powered by engines in the early part of the 20th century.

Engines go back to the late 1800s, but tractors came into use in 1905. Most of Ramsden's tractors date from then until the 1940s.

Anyone who wants to exhibit or compete may simply show up; there is no registration. Exhibitors may set up Aug. 8 and earlier, and there is parking for recreational vehicles for exhibitors and participants as long as space lasts.

Cost to enter is $3 per adult and free to children under 12. The admission fee goes to cover show expenses, and the remainder ($500 last year) goes to the Sertoma Club to be used for its various charities.

For information, call Ramsden at 267-4816 or Chaney at (775) 246-3157 up to 8:30 p.m.

What: Antique tractors

When: 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: Stephanie Way and Heybourne Road


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