December 5, 2021

High-powered history in action

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Tractors of Yesteryear club member Don Fuller of Cincinnatus, pulls up alongside his competition Saturday during a TOYS tractor pull at the Central New York Living History Center on Route 11 in Cortlandville. The event was one of the attractions at the center’s first All Wheels Show.

History gained a few hundred horsepower on Saturday at the Central New York Living History Center.

Cars, new and old, lined the front parking lot of the building, while the durability of antique tractors was put to the test in a tractor pull competition off to the side of the building.

About 20 vintage tractors were on display, some dating back to the 1950s, and many of them were not just for show.

A trailer, which dragged along the ground, was loaded with two large concrete blocks, about the size of a 1990s computer monitor. Each tractor was hooked up to the trailer, which pulled it as far as it could. The limit was 150 feet.

Don Fuller of Cincinnatus went just about the whole distance before the his 1953 International Harvester McCormick W4 began spinning its tires.

“That’s all it could do,” he said after the pull.

He has been participating in the Tractor of Yesteryear club’s tractor pulls, which occur all around the area, for about eight years, he said.

“I do it for the fun of it,” he said.

Getting the chance to meet other tractor owners and speak with the spectators is what really makes the event fun for him.

Gerry Craig of McGraw said the tractors are what most of today’s tractor owners grew up with. He, like many, enjoys the nostalgia of the event.

But as the tractors and their owners get older, it becomes more difficult to haul them to different events. Craig said it is hard to move the tractors, and there are strict state guidelines on how to tow them.

Luke Biondi, executive director at the Central New York Living History Center, said the size of the tractor pull has decreased a little over the years.

To help attract more people to the event and the museum, the All Wheels Show was started this year. Biondi said it is a show for anything with wheels — cars, trucks, motorcycles and even bicycles.

About 60 cars were on display, ranging from a 2017 Ford Mustang to a 1912 Ford Model T. There was even the all-electric Tesla Model S, and vintage bicycles from the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Biondi said the museum does not have many fall events, so he wanted to create something that could bring a lot of people in. Combining a car show with the tractor pull accomplished just that, as people were in and out of the area throughout the day.

Earl Carroll of Cortlandville attended the show with his new Mustang. But it was not just an ordinary Mustang. It was No. 11 of 43 special edition Mustangs that had been upgraded by NASCAR legend Richard Petty’s performance garage. While a typical Mustang may put out about 430 horsepower, this one made 825.

Carroll said he attends a car show every weekend. The Mustang is just one car in his collection he likes to show off. He does not go to win awards, he just likes to show his cars.

The museum’s car show has already become one of his favorites, due to the variety of cars, trucks and tractors there.
“This is neat,” Carroll said. “There is a little bit of everything for everybody.”