John Deere's Tractor-Opoly & Waterloo History

Greetings from the Deere heartland, It has been nearly three months since our move to Dixon, Illinois. We are adjusting slowly still searching through rows of boxes for winter sweaters and snow boots. And both have been needed. Just recently we went through a spell where the wind chill was -20 most of the day.

I am honored and inspired for me to serve as one of the writers for the newsletter. It keeps Arden and me in touch with you all whom we miss and cherish. I will be writing on various themes over the year from John Deere history (which I believe is so important to know), to report the experiences from other clubs. I would appreciate your feedback and suggestions as to topics or subjects you would like to see in this column.

Arden and I have been able to make contact with John Deere collectors in Dixon. One has a 37 B and I believe an H. We also are in the process of joining the Northeastern Illinois Two Cylinder. You may recall they are one of the four clubs that host the Gathering of the Green. They have their annual banquet, with an auction (much like ours) in March. Arden and I plan to attend. Speaking of the Gathering, the 2018 show will have its theme as the celebration of the 100th anniversary of John Deere Company purchasing the Waterloo Tractor Company for two and a half million, thus beginning the John Deere entry into being a major producer in the tractor industry.

Other than being five miles from Grand Detour; where blacksmith John Deere hammered out his famous plow, the main reasons we made the huge move to Dixon was to be with our grandsons, James and John. James is 9 Johnny is 6. James is at the age now where he is beginning to develop an interest and curiosity in tractors…(John Deere of course ).For Christmas, his parents gave him a game called John Deere “Tractor-opoly". James loves it and has done much to bring us deerely together.

"Tractor-opoly" is a board game similar to Monopoly . Tractors replace real estate and it is one of the best educational pieces for kids of all ages that I have seen concerning John Deere’s history and heritage. After a game or two, which by the way like Monopoly takes time, our grandson learned many things about John Deere that he hadn't known previously. When he landed on the space for the model D, he learned that production started in 1923 and this tractor holds the record for having the longest run of any model John Deere tractor. He also learned that in 1949, the model R was Deere’s first diesel tractor. Finally, he learned that in 1937, just a few miles from our home, a blacksmith took a broken steel sawmill blade and fashioned a moldboard that became the famous John Deere plow. What excited this grandfather’s Deere heart the most, was James’ interest in the Waterloo Boy and that the Waterloo Boy was first produced in 1912 by the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company and that this company was purchased by Deere and Company in 1918 for $2.34 million.

As James and I played John Deere "Tractor- opoly" I found it to be a wonderful tool to educate and encourage young folks to get interested in the history of John Deere. I believe that this interest is a critical component in keeping the history alive, just as critical as the collection and restoration of John Deere tractors themselves. As we all know, our Waterloo Boys Club members are aging and we are, simply put, one generation away from extinction. We need to stimulate and articulate to our young to the joy in collecting and sustaining of John Deere history. I invite all grandparents, and parents to go out and buy John Deere this game, set time aside, and get them away from their iPads and computers share the joy of learning this important history.

Blessings to you all and wishing you all a very healthy 2017. Jim Olsen… Jimmyolsen1942@gmail.com

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