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Antique tractor comes home to the Valley

by Heidi Alder

An 85-year-old antique tractor returned to the Carson Valley last week.

Bill Ramsden is the caretaker of the 1914 Case steam-powered tractor, and he is very pleased the tractor has returned to the Valley.

“Had it not been purchased by a local, it very well could have been sold to someone out of the state, including the East Coast, Europe or Australia,” Ramsden said. “These types of equipment are collected world-wide.”

But this isn’t any old tractor. It “grew up” in the Valley, so to speak.

“It was purchased new in 1914 by the Plumb brothers at the Plumb Ranch,” Ramsden said.

Plumb Ranch is now Plumb Lane in Reno.

“Within about four or five years, it was sent to the Dangberg Ranch, the largest ranch in Carson Valley,” Ramsden said. “There it was used primarily to heat water for use in the slaughterhouse.”

As chance would have it, the Dangbergs didn’t use it as a pulling tractor, which then left the drive train and other components of the engine in excellent condition, Ramsden said.

In 1961, Calvin Tinkham traded a more modern steam boiler for the wood-fired tractor to the Dangbergs.

“Cal’s a steam buff and railroad engineer from Reno,” Ramsden said. “He’s also responsible for helping get the tourist attraction steam locomotive currently operating at Virginia City. It’s the one that originally ran between Minden and Carson City.”

Not long after, the Case tractor made a public appearance in the 1964 Nevada Day Centennial Parade and many other parades during the ’60s and ’70s, Ramsden said.

“Cal diligently cared for this tractor since 1961, until its recent purchase by Bill Miles. The unit is in excellent condition and has a current State Boiler Inspector Certificate,” Ramsden said. “Currently, it is the only lap seam boiler to have a state certificate.”

On July 3, the adventure of steaming up the 19,000 pound 40-horse tractor took place.

“It took approximately two hours and 30 minutes from when the fire was built to when steam came out,” Ramsden said. “We had it chugging all over on Saturday.”

Ramsden is now in the process of turning his 10-acre home into the showgrounds for the fourth annual Antique Engine, Truck and Tractor Show that will be held Aug. 14 and 15.

“The equipment relates to the Industrial Revolution starting in the late 1800s to the earlier 1900s. People can see how things were done by power instead of by hand,” Ramsden said.

Ramsden owns about 40 tractors and engines, and will show some along with the 200-250 other exhibits that come from surrounding states including Colorado, California and Idaho.

“It’s a big international hobby,” Ramsden said.

His property is located at the corner of Stephanie Lane and Heybourne Road. The public is invited. Food and refreshments will be provided by the Sertoma Club, and a $3 donation will be charged to cover costs.

For information for exhibitors and collectors, call at 267-4816 or Dennis Chaney at (775) 246-3157 up to 8:30 p.m.