Back to the past: Group has History of Harvest Day

NAPPANEE — Nappanee Power From the Past held a History of the Harvest Day on Saturday, July 13, at the group’s show grounds located on Tomahawk Trail just west of downtown Nappanee.
Approximately 200 people – tractor club members and interested spectators – witnessed wheat harvesting history and equipment spanning from Biblical times through the 1950s.
One special guest, Merv Yoder from the Shipshewana area, shared his passion for preserving the rich harvesting history, and educated others with a historical account of the development of the first mechanical harvesting equipment.
He showed the various hand-held, labor-intensive tools from the past to harvest wheat.
While those tools were effective, the burning issue which still resided in the minds of farmers: “There’s got to be a better way.” This same mindset led Cyrus McCormick to invent the reaper in 1831, which was the turning point toward mechanized harvesting.
Yoder owns four Reapers, and had one on hand to demonstrate the wheat harvest.
The Reaper cuts and gathers the wheat into neat piles which get evenly placed in the field.
The next historical advancement was the Binder, which was also demonstrated at the Harvest Day.
This piece of equipment took the process one step further and bound the piles of wheat into shocks.
The shocks are then arranged in the field to dry before being loaded on a wagon to head for the threshing machine.
A steam traction engine from the early 1900s powered a Huber threshing machine which separted the grain from the straw. This completed the three-step process in order to harvest the grain.
Also featured at the event were pull-type combination harvester/threshers, commonly known as combines.
On hand were two John Deere combines, a model 12A and a model 30, which did the bulk of the harvesting. The club estimates that off of its six-acre wheat field, it yielded approximately 450 bushels.
The club was extremely pleased with the turnout, and foresees that this could be an annual event.
If you’d like to know more about Nappanee Power From the Past and future events, feel free to log on to the group’s website at You can also find us on Facebook at You can follow us on Twitter as well at
Our next big event will be the Nappanee Apple Festival Tractor Show coming up on Sept. 20 and 21.