Tractor Drive draws over 30 enthusiasts

Posted 8/9/21

SUBLETTE/AMBOY – The 2021 Sublette One Day Tractor Drive began at the Ellice Dinges Center in Sublette on Aug. 4. The group left Sublette at 8 a.m. to meet-up with the rest of the participants at the Amboy City Park.

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Tractor Drive draws over 30 enthusiasts



Amboy News staff

SUBLETTE/AMBOY – The 2021 Sublette One Day Tractor Drive began at the Ellice Dinges Center in Sublette on Aug. 4. The group left Sublette at 8 a.m. to meet-up with the rest of the participants at the Amboy City Park.

“We could not have asked for a better day,” coordinator Don Dinges said. “We will have a small group meeting here and driving to Amboy to meet with the larger Amboy group.”

Among those meeting in Sublette were father and daughter, Joe Phillips-Ohio-1948 Farmall M, and Kristi Phillips-LaMoille-John Deere 3010. They each brought their dogs along for the drive.

“Kylie was 3 months old when she went on her first drive. She is now 3 years old and loves to ride on the seat with me,” said Kristi Phillips.

“Skippy John Jones is 13 years old and I have no idea how many drives he has been on. A lot,” said Joe Phillips with a smile.

Scott Keech and Betty Haas-Princeton-1945 Farmall H and Michael Fischer-LaMoille-1948 Farmall M also left from Sublette with the group led by Doug McLaughlin-Sublette-1971 John Deere 4020.

“Scott built the iron frame for our double seat and I have a custom footrest. We found an upholsterer to make it comfortable and water-proof,” said Haas. “This is the fourth drive for us this year.”

The Amboy group was headed-up by Hank Gerdes-Amboy-1950 Farmall M (for a back-story on this tractor, see the article following this one).  Gerdes would lead the drive on the route to the east, around to the south and then west to the lunch stop at Green River Oaks Resort. After lunch, the group would travel north and then back east and south to meet at Amboy City Park for dinner.

“The drive will cover over 60 miles if we depart on time. I will adjust the route if needed,” commented Gerdes. “We will travel at about 12 mph and average 10 mph with stops and crossing the highway.”

Tractors from all over northwest and northcentral Illinois participated. The oldest tractor in the drive was the 1943 Farmall M driven by Dan Nelson of Fenton. Many of the participants had been on multiple drives already this year. Glen Werkheiser, Prophetstown, has 10 2021 rides so far.

Three generations of the Gillan family participated with eight different tractors. Nanette and daughter, Jessica Carls, were participating for the first time. Sons Jeff, Neil and Andrew and grandsons Grady and Gavin all drove alone while Grayson rode with grandpa, Dennis. Dennis and Nanette Gillan own and operate Green River Oaks Resort that would provide the tractor drive lunch for the third time.

The drive ended with one less tractor than it began with after a breakdown.

“We ended up traveling 63 miles,” said Gerdes. “The gravel roads were dusty so having the lead meant I had it good!”

Dinner at Amboy City Park was organized by Dean Stephenitch and included sweet corn provided by Mark Streit.

The Sublette One Day Tractor Drive is sponsored by the Sublette Farm Toy and Tractor Show and is held each year on the first Wednesday of August.

A Back-Story

Hank Gerdes drove a 1950 Farmall M in the Sublette One Day Tractor Drive that has a heartwarming story. He was happy to share it.

The 1950 Farmall M was originally purchased new by Milo Mundorf, Milledgeville, and was used on his farm until it was “retired” and sat unused for 26 years. Mundorf requested the tractor not be sold until he moved from the farm or died. He moved in 2010 to the LaSalle Veterans’ Home and Gerdes purchased the tractor. Gerdes completely refurbished the tractor and power-steering was added to make driving it easier.

In 2011, Gerdes brought the renewed tractor down to LaSalle for Munford to see. The event had been coordinated with the Veterans’ Home and Munford family. The joy of seeing it and running again brought a tear to Munford’s eye. His nephew drove the tractor and commented that he wished it had power-steering on it when he used it for chores so many years ago.

Munford passed away on his 100th birthday in 2017. His 1950 Farmall M continues to carry a history shared by so many in rural Illinois. Gerdes and others like him keep the history alive.