Earth shattering iron at US show

Once every two years, thousands of classic and vintage tractors descend on a former airfield at Rantoul, Illinois, for a four-day spectacle called Half Century of Progress.

by Steven Vale

25 Aug 2019

Flagged up as the largest working event of its kind in North America, as the name suggests the focus of the popular event is on tractors and machines from the 1970s, but older examples are also well represented.

Held at what is now the Rantoul National Aviation Center, the nearly 1.5km long runway is put to good use for the daily parade of power. This year´s event, which ends today, not only attracted thousands of enthusiasts, but also some of the coolest tractors ever made.

Visitors never know what is going to be on display but this year´s show-stoppers include a Rite-made tractor called Earthquake. While badged as the 750, the modified 12-pot Detroit Diesel block kicks out a whopping 850hp. There is also a Big Bud HN-250 (first model built in 1969), a Steiger Tiger ST450 and numerous articulated John Deere tractors.

Other highlights included tractor pulling, and the mouth-watering opportunity to watch combines from the past harvest maize grain.

The next event will take place August 2021.


Half Century of Progress precedes the three-day Farm Progress Show, which starts this coming Tuesday and finishes on Thursday. Just an hour´s drive away from Rantoul at Decatur, at FPS it is new tractors and machines that take centre stage. More details at some point.

Special thanks to Chad E. Colby for permission to publish some of his stunning photographs.