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Froelich General Store & Tractor Muesum

upl_froelich-museumIn the small Northeast Iowa town of Froelich, you’ll find a very important piece of America’s agricultural story being preserved. Frustrated with the heavy and bulky steam powered tractors that often threatened to set fire to fields, in 1892, village native John Froelich invented the first ever gasoline powered engine that could be propelled both backward and forward.  John’s revolutionary invention would soon change the future of agriculture, with the launch of the Waterloo Gasoline Traction Engine Company, later purchased by John Deere.

Designated as a SSNHA Partner Site in 2002, Froelich General Store and Tractor Museum lets visitors discover the story behind the tractor’s invention and 1800s rural culture. In the museum’s restored 1890 blacksmith shop, find a working replica of the “Froelich Tractor” constructed from the original blueprints which are on display in the 1891 general store. The general store was the hub for the village, serving as the freight depot, post office and “cracker barrel” gathering place. Also on the museum grounds is an 1866 one-room schoolhouse, where visitors can learn what it was like for students in the 1800s. Each year during the annual Fall-der-All Celebration, the village comes to life with vintage engine and tractor displays, museum tours, barn dance, mini-tractor pull and much more.

Froelich’s history couldn’t be preserved without dedicated volunteers. We’d like to honor one of Froelich’s most devoted supporters, Denny Eilers, who passed away this past June. Denny was a past president for the Froelich Foundation, with his vision for the site instrumental in making it what it is today. Denny was also involved with SSNHA, serving on the past judging committee for the annual photo contest. Denny’s contributions to the Heritage Area will truly be missed.

For more information on Froelich, call 563-536-2841 or visit www.froelichtractor.com.

Topics: Spotlight Site

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