The story of Gleaner combines in Kansas spans nearly a century and Agco, which now manufactures the brand at its plant in Hesston, is pulling out the stops for a 90-year birthday celebration on Saturday, Aug. 17.
Events of the day will include a commemoration, a combine caravan from the Gleaner birthplace in Nickerson to the present-day factory in Hesston, and a community-wide parade through the streets of Hesston.
Events begin with a ceremony in Nickerson at 7 a.m. At 7:30 a.m., the caravan of old and new machines will begin the 40-mile trip to Hesston. Gleaner owners are invited to bring their combines and join the caravan or participate in the one-mile parade through Hesston.
Agco is requiring that those who want to participate in the caravan or parade pre-register by Aug. 7. More information can be obtained by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The combine caravan will travel from Nickerson to Hesston via 82nd Avenue and Dutch Avenue —(ROUTE MAP), arriving at the Excel Industries, Inc., parking lot at 200 S. Ridge Road for parade staging at approximately 11 a.m.
A 1925 Gleaner combine, a 1954 Gleaner Z, the Wichita Caledonia Pipes and Drums band, public safety vehicles, motorcycle organizations and many other participants are expected to join the parade which will start at 11:30 a.m. Spectators may watch the parade as it travels down Ridge Road from Excel Industries, Inc. to AGCO Hesston Operations, where combines will be on display during the early afternoon.
Gleaners were originally manufactured by the Baldwin brothers, Curtis, George and Ernest, who operated a custom threshing business. The designed the first self-propelled combine in 1923, designing it to require minimal repairs. Bearings were large, good quality and in common sizes so the operator could carry a small stock of spares.
Through the years, the machines were designed for reliability, simplicity and transportability. Today, Agco advertises the Optimum Harvesting Performance of the Gleaner.
The parade will feature a special combine owned by a Baldwin Brothers descendant, Bruce Baldwin. His father, Hayes Baldwin, sold the combine in 1955 to Frank Buehne, who used it until he retired from farming in the early 1970s.
The combine has a 14-foot header and six-cylinder Hercules motor – but no cab, air conditioning or power steering. It was top of the line in its day and sold for $5,500. Bruce Baldwin bought it from Buehne in 1998 for $350.