Blast from the Past

Farmer Iron

A random surprise pulls up some interesting memories, and a look at how our industry has changed.

Published on: August 13, 2010

Sometimes you find the most interesting things in unexpected places. The photo on this page will bring back some great memories for many of my older readers - this International Harvester plate was inside the IH refrigerator I ran across while visiting my Iowa hometown.

Of course, the fridge was inoperable and is now being used by a gift and clothing store to display scented candles and other items. You know the kind of place, lots of interesting things creatively displayed. Yet it shows how far agriculture has come.

Today the idea of a major farm equipment company also being in the appliance business would be absurd; but back in the day these companies were more to the farm than providers of equipment. They were the whole-farm supplier of a whole range of products.

Farm equipment companies, like their crop protection counterparts, have focused their businesses on the serving agriculture. Sure, they have construction and perhaps logging divisions, but when it comes to agriculture, it's about products and services for putting in the crop, protecting the crop, harvesting the crop and moving the crop to market.

But seeing that refrigerator brings back memories about how this business was and how it has changed. My sister-in-law and her husband remember the IH refrigerator they had at one time: "I think it cost $50" she says. Of course that's a change for any fridge now.

And this also shows how agriculture has changed too. Today, this is a great, focused business and those companies that serve farmers see the potential. You're feeding the world - despite what some claim. And those that work in this business are focused too.

Long-ago diversifications that have been abandoned still make for great history. While the IH fridge is now a curiosity, what other products do you remember made by others. I remember seeing John Deere bicycles when I was a kid, but I'm sure there are a lot of very interesting items you may recall. Registered users can comment right on this page, or you can send a note to

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  1. C. Ferguson says:

    We still use a IH frigerator as our second fridge is the basement. We bought it used 46 years ago and it still works fine!

  2. D. Crummett says:

    Oliver, of tractor fame, produced an outboard motor for a period in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Dan

  3. D. Crummett says:

    M16-A1 I carried in basic training in 1970 was produced by GM-Hydramatic Div. Dan