Dakota Farmer

A museum for the love of old tractors

Slideshow: The South Dakota Tractor Museum, just off I-90 at Kimball, displays and interprets scores of historic and rare tractors.

Curt Arens, Editor, Nebraska Farmer

August 8, 2023

9 Slides

Farmers love tractors. All farmers, young and young at heart, seem to love tractors ranging from the latest and greatest looking back to the very earliest tractors ever used in the field. That’s why farmers love the South Dakota Tractor Museum, just off Interstate 90 at Kimball, S.D.

Farmers and tractors go hand in hand. Tractor aficionados — both farmers and non-farmers — can view a range of historical tractors once used in the field at the South Dakota Tractor Museum.

For 23 years, the museum has drawn in tractor enthusiasts from far and wide. According to one museum supporter, Maynard Konechne of Kimball, before the pandemic, the museum was visited by guests from around 20 different countries each year.

“This always amazed me,” Konechne says. “Since COVID, it has been around five or six other countries, but guests from nearly all 50 states come every year.”

Easy access

The museum is just off Interstate 90 at Exit 284. The complex at the museum consists of 11 structures housing not only tractors, but also other farm machinery, a blacksmith shop, buggies and antique cars, tools, household items and a lineup of unrestored combines, tractors and other machinery outside, plus a gift shop and country schoolhouse.

“To build that first building, we received a grant, plus businesses donated $500 each for a one-time donation to get things going,” Konechne says. “We don’t own any of the tractors on display. There was a group of farmers and other area residents, mostly from Kimball, White Lake and other area towns, who loaned their tractors to the museum.”

The rest of the complex structures were built over time, mainly through donations from supporters and enthusiasts, and free-will offerings from visitors, because there is no admission fee.

Most of the tractors have been running in the last two or three years, Konechne says, so they are in good running shape for visitors to view. Among the collection is a rare Thieman tractor. But for Konechne, one of his favorites at the museum is the wooden icebox in the household collection.

The museum is staffed by 26 volunteers, from Kimball, Pukwana and surrounding communities, who each take a four-hour shift each week during operating hours from Memorial Day weekend to late September. They host school tours and bus groups, and often provide a guided tour of the tractors and the museum complex.

You can learn more about the museum by visiting its Facebook page.

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About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

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