As the fall comes creeping in and the harvest days wind up, the question is, where to go indoors to enjoy the antique tractor and toy hobby? Most toy shows don’t start until the dead of winter, except of course for the National Farm Toy Show in Dyersville, Iowa, the first weekend of November.
Otherwise, the schedule may be open for fun activities. If so, consider checking out two fantastic International Harvester museums, one in Indiana and the other in Missouri.
In Royal Center, Ind., Clyde Berkshire has an amazing museum. Clyde, a former IH dealer, has a museum filled with all things International Harvester. One of the advantages to Clyde’s museum is he lived the IH story, as both a dealer and a collector, and visitors can see what he has gathered over the years and listen to him explain just what an item is and what significance it possesses.
Berkshire Implement Dealership opened its doors in 1951, and closed in 1989 as a dealership only to reopen as a museum. Clyde kept everything, and he has been adding to his collection for decades. The final result is a museum filled with memorabilia displayed in moveable cabinets made by a local 90-year-old gentleman.
There are signs hanging from the ceiling, toys line the walls, pedals sit on a shelf halfway around the museum and tractors and even a rare 1910 Auto Buggy finds a place in this former dealership.
Clyde stared his career with IH in 1945 in Monticello, as a parts man at Kenney dealership where he worked for two years. Next, he worked at a dealership in Lafayette for two years before opening his own dealership in Royal Center. His family worked at the dealership, with his late wife, Helen, in the office ordering parts and doing the bookwork while his daughters worked behind the parts counter and his son set up machinery in the back.
“I did the sales,” Clyde explained.
The museum is located in the dealership building he built in 1978. The GPS address for the museum is 7510 U.S. 35 Royal Center, IN 46978. Call 574-643-3115 for details. Clyde’s museum is open Monday-Friday at 7 a.m. – and closes when Clyde decides to call it a day!
The Darst museum, owned by Darrell and Kevin Darst, is located outside Madison, Mo. Although Clyde was an IH dealer, the Darsts have their own areas of expertise that make a visit to their museum a history lesson, as well.
Darrell has been the editor of Harvester Highlights since 1998 and his wife, Kevin, is an expert in IH refrigeration. The Darsts just finished their museum last August and it includes sections designed to entice the visitor, and this couple has a story to accompany each and every item.
The first thing inside the museum is an IH robot named Tracto, an eight-foot talking robot assembled from 227 farm tractor and implement parts.
To the right of Tracto is an extensive IH refrigeration display, which includes refrigerators, freezers and the memorabilia that accompanied this division of IH, manufactured in Evansville, Ind.
To the left is a milking display, including a milk cooler and milking parlor.
Like the Berkshire museum, the Darst museum has many rare items, like the Cyrus McCormick silver coin, made for the family celebrating an anniversary. Another rare item commemorating an event is a clock that celebrated the production of the one-millionth refrigerator built at the Evansville plant.
While the Berkshire museum boasts a real parts section, the Darsts built their own and their mannequin, “Fred,” waits to greet IH customers seeking parts. The Darsts have some parts for sale, and Darrell is well known for the seats he makes for IH tractors.
There is a back wall filled with IH shirts and uniforms.
In front of the wall is a 1931 International AW2 Six-Speed Special truck. The side wall is lined with signs, and shelves are filled with memorabilia, toys and more. Besides the museum, there is a building filled with tractors and machinery for visitors to enjoy.
To visit, an appointment is required; call 660-291-8742 to schedule a visit.
Whether heading to Missouri or Indiana, either museum is well worth the trip. You will see two distinctly different museums, but will enjoy all the immersion in the International Harvester years.
Readers with questions or comments for Cindy Ladage may write to her in care of this publication.