A Large Delivery

Back in June, several park staff went to Alaska to pick up a  1945 Allis-Chalmers Model C tractor, faded orange and rusted from sitting outside for several decades. The tractor belonged to Ken Deardorff, the last homesteader to file a claim in 1974, proving up on his claim by building a house, clearing land to farm, and living on it in 1979 for five years. Homestead National Monument staff dug out the tractor, and prepared it to be airlifted off the homestead in Alaska, to start its journey to Beatrice, Nebraska. The tractor will be stored here at the monument shortly, before being taken to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to be restored and readied for permanent display here.

Alaska Tractor

the tractor parked in Alaska

Everyone here at the park was excitedly following the tractor’s flight off of Ken Deardorff’s homestead and through a mountain pass in Alaska, but I hadn’t heard much about it since then. Then, Thursday afternoon we got a call that the tractor was only an hour away from the park, in the back of a semi! We all went outside to watch, and brought the GoPro and the camera to make sure we captured the entire event. I asked to be the photographer, and here’s what happened. The semi pulls in, they open the back doors to reveal a huge wooden crate, our little bobcat pulls up to lift the crate out of the back of the semi…and the bobcat is too small, it can’t lift out the crate. So maintenance brings out our larger tractor to try, and the back left wheel starts to lift off the ground. They end up calling a guy who lives down the road and has a forklift, so we wait for him to drive it down here. Then he needs to run back to pick up extensions for the forks on the lift, because the crate is so long. I got photos of the whole progression of machinery. Eventually we get the crate off the truck, open up the front, and all get a peek inside at the tractor that belonged to the last homesteader. It’s a pretty cool continuation of the story of the first homesteader, the Freeman family, whose 160-acre claim now makes up the majority of the park.  

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