There's quite a bit to celebrate at the Larsen Tractor Test and Power Museum.
This year, the museum is marking the 100th anniversary of the Nebraska tractor test law passed in July of 1919. It all started with concerns over poor tractor performance.
"Wilmot Crozier was a farmer from Osceloa, he was also a state legislator, and he continually got information from his constituents as well has himself that tractors of the day didn't live up to their potential," museum manager Lance Todd said. "They were advertising that they would do so many things, or be able to pull so many plows, but they couldn't do any of those things. He got together with some of his colleagues in the Legislature, and they drafted the Nebraska tractor test law which simply stated that any new tractor model needed to be tested here at the facility prior to being sold in the state of Nebraska."
That testing continues today, although not in the museum, but in a new lab, and on a track outside the museum. "We've tested every year except for two years during World War II, and we are up over 2,220 tractor models to date," Todd said. "Generally when visitors come here, we give a tour of the collection, as well as the current test facility as well. So, you can see our past and our present.
While the museum is marking the 100th anniversary of the tractor test law this year, next year the museum will observe the 100th anniversary of actual tractor testing. "That will correspond with starting testing in Nebraska in 1920, all the way until 1980. Of course, we are still doing that today," Todd said.
Along with the milestones, the museum is heading into the future with new flooring and track lighting in gallery spaces, along with new exhibit areas. "We have a couple of tractors that will be coming into the collection that represent those early teens and '20's, as far as testing is concerned," Todd said. "We also completed our barn display that depicts an Allis Chalmers WC that appears to be being worked on in a glorified barn here in the museum."
There's also a kids activity area. "We are really trying to just upgrade the facility to the point where people can come in here, feel the history, but also it's a clean and easy environment to navigate," Todd said. So if you haven't been to the tractor museum lately, now might be as good a time as any to see what's new.