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Farmer’s Museum Features Horse-Drawn Equipment
If you appreciate history, horses and horse-drawn equipment, you may want to plan a visit to The Barns Museum in Marcus, Iowa.
    “There are about 250 pieces, and I research everything and give a written history so people can take a self-guided tour and read about everything,” says owner JR Pearson.
    At 78, the retired farmer still keeps a few Belgian horses on his farm nearby. He’s owned horses since he was 12 and built wagons and buggies for his own quarter horses and draft horses.
    “Back in the 80s I picked up (antique) pieces with no plans of making a museum,” Pearson says, but his collection keeps growing. Currently The Barns encompasses about 9,000 square ft. in four buildings next to the town’s horse arena.
    Everything is under cover and in working order, though he tries to keep pieces as original as possible. His oldest piece is an 1822 Conestoga wagon jack. A horse-drawn grain drill with original paint and parts was built 137 years ago.
    Other pieces include an 1878 McCormick mower, a British plow, Louisville and Leidy stalk cutters, and a 1905 wooden manure spreader that has steel embedded in the wood beaters.
    One of his favorite pieces is an International Harvester breaking plow with original paint. With a 20-in. cut it took four horses to pull.
    Some equipment required extensive restoration such as a corn sheller he found in a South Dakota pasture. It was all in pieces and he managed to find about 98 percent of the parts and fabricated the rest. Many accessories like shellers, grinders and threshers were powered by “horse power”.
    Pearson reads ads and follows up on leads to find the one-of-a-kind pieces he wants to add to his museum. He’s collected equipment throughout the Midwest and other states.
    “Sometimes I find 3 or 4 items at one place. Many guys kept everything,” Pearson says.
    Much of the equipment in his collection was built in the 1800’s when there were many manufacturers. Most businesses were bought up by big companies such as John Deere, IH and Case. With the invention of tractors, horse-drawn equipment production ended about 1926, though John Deere continued to make horse-drawn wagons until about 1950.
    Pearson welcomes small and large groups to call for an appointment to tour The Barns museum from Memorial Day through fall. Cost is $10/person.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, The Barns, JR Pearson, 5506 B Ave., Marcus, Iowa 51035 (ph 712 229-4809; pearson41@evertek.net).

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2019 - Volume #43, Issue #3