2008 - Volume #32, Issue #2, Page #23[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Combine City Reminds Farmer Of Past Harvests
In 2002, he had stripped the engine, hydraulics and fuel tank off his 1970 1500 New Holland combine. It didn't seem worth the work to cut it up and sell it for scrap.
His wife, Gracie, offered a suggestion: "Why don't you just bury it?"
Ladehoff liked the idea, but not the terminology. "I call it planting them," he says.
He cut the rear tires off, dug a hole with his backhoe and slid the combine in with the header rearing up from the ground. Located next to a highway 10 miles southeast of Amarillo, it soon attracted attention, and neighbors brought over their worn out combines to add to the collection. Ladehoff even went out and bought some old combines, stripped them of their good parts, and buried those as well.
Fourteen combines have found their final resting place on Ladehoff's land. A Route 66 magazine writer did a piece about Combine City. A local high school girl had her senior photo taken with the combines in the background.
Combine City has become a tourist attraction and even has a website including items for sale (managed by one of Ladehoff's friends). It's sometimes called a copycat of the famous Cadillac Ranch on the other side of Amarillo on Rt. 66, where a millionaire buried 10 Cadillacs more than 50 years ago to represent the Golden Age of automobiles.
Ladehoff says he isn't trying to make any kind of statement with his combines, though it brings fond memories to Gracie and him.
"It reminds me of the old times harvesting and Mom bringing food out to the fields," he says. The Ladehoffs also remember watching Gleaner Baldwin combines being hauled on too-small trucks by custom crews.
Combine City continues to attract visitors, and people who don't get to Amarillo can see photos on the website. But don't expect the city to grow, Ladehoff says.
When combine No. 14 went in the ground in February, Ladehoff decided it should be the last one in the 2-acre plot. Combine City started out looking like art, but "my wife says now it's starting to look a little like a junkyard, " Ladehoff laughs.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Orville Ladehoff, Combine City, 10240 S. Whitaker Rd., Amarillo, Texas 79118 (ph 806 622-1750; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.combinecity.com).
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