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John F. Spalding EDGETA Branch 29 - South Central Montana Antique Tractor and Machinery Association

John Spalding has made significant contributions to EDGETA. In this quotation, Travis Brown describes one of John\’s many contributions: \”U.S. Tobacco still carries a large physical presence in Nashville. U.S. Tobacco had in their plant two matching Skinner Uniflow engines with generators that were used to power the plant. Several years ago, the company decided that they had not used this equipment in a long time and chose to dispense with it. John Spalding became aware of this decision and managed to talk them into donating the qupment rather than selling it for scrap. He made contact with Joe Collins, one of the members of EDGETA Branch 202 in Tennessee. Joe hosts a show at his facilities at Portland, Tennessee. After some discussion with John, Joe and another steam enthusiast looked over the equipment. Joe then had the engines loaded up and transported to his showgrounds in Tennessee. John and Joe are making progress on setting up this display\”. John has also pitched in to help with Joe\’s show every year. If you know John, you know that you will never catch him standng around when there is work to be done.

Throughout his life, John F. Spalding has taken an active role in many shows of vintage iron. He has saved two important Skinner engines that will be appreciated by the crowds that attend EDGETA member Joe Collins\’ show. John has selfessly shared his knowledge of agricultural history and his historical photographs through a regular column that he writes for national magazines. He has postd a Web site to honor our nation\’s farming legacy, and he has written and published three books commemorating agricultural steam engines, kerosene and gasoline tractors, and hit and miss engines.

John F. Spalding has amassed one of the world\’s largest collections of historical photographs of American agricultural steam engines, as well as gasoline tractors and related farming implements. His photographs hang in fram museums, including the new building dedicated to the history of the development of the steam engine at Midwest Old Threshers, the largest show in North America. He routinely makes his collection available through his magazine columns, his Web site, and his books, all of which are widely read and well recieved. John always unselfishly shares his archive!

Addendum Provided by Bob Rhode:

I am nominating John F. Spalding for induction into the EDGE&TA Hall of Fame because he has participated in several shows of vintage iron, devoted tremendous effort to writing a regular column in national magazines that feature agricultural history, posted a Web site ( honoring our nation’s farming legacy, published three books commemorating the history of machines used on American farms, and annually donated his time and labor on behalf of Joe Collins’ show in Portland, Tennessee, and for EDGE&TA Branch 202. John rescued and donated to Joe’s show two matching Skinner Uniflow engines, which John is helping restore. Travis Brown and Joe Collins attest that John is one of the most valuable team players in helping host the annual show.

John began attending the Central States Threshermen’s Reunion in Pontiac, Illinois, in 1959 at the age of 3. He became the youngest member of the organization four years later. Since that time, he has regularly taken an active role in the event. Over the years, John has helped engineers to exhibit their engines, participated in the daily parades, and assisted in the installation of permanent displays. Further, he has sold programs every year. In the same way that John has long been a pitch-in-and-help member of the Central States threshing reunion, John has assisted other shows, including Joe’s show in Portland.

I have co-authored three of John’s books: The Steam Tractor Encyclopedia, Great Photographs of Farm Steam Engines from the Collection of John F. Spalding, and the New Expanded Edition of The Steam Tractor Encyclopedia.John began collecting steam tractor photographs and ephemera in the late 1980s. Each photograph is more than a picture; it is a portal back in time. In June 2003, Richard Backus, editor of Steam Traction, an international magazine devoted to the restoration and preservation of agricultural steam engines, invited John to submit a regular column. Entitled “Spalding’s Corner,” John’s contribution was a staple in each issue until Steam Traction ceased publication. His column now appears in Engineers and Engines Magazine. John’s collection of historic photographs depicting farm steam engines and gasoline engines is nothing short of amazing! While most of John’s images depict steam power, he has included in our books sections of photographs representing kerosene and gasoline tractors, as well as hit and miss engines. John is an incredible resource to those of us who study American agricultural history.

For all of his publications, from his column to the books, John has kept in mind this goal, expressed here in his own words: “I have a passion to ensure that information regarding this topic comes to light and is documented for posterity.” John has corresponded with hundreds of people interested in the vintage-iron restoration movement. He has also supported the efforts of Travis Brown and others in their collaboration with the state’s boiler inspectors to ensure safe operation of steam boilers.

In my estimation, John F. Spalding is eminently qualified for the EDGE&TA Hall of Fame.

This page was last modified: November 24th, 2020

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