2012-01-11 / Front Page

Museum displays rare tractors

By Rich Griset
CONTRIBUTING WRITER


Alan “Bones” Stone is curator for Colonial Heights’ Keystone Tractor Works museum, which displays unusual tractors like this 1938 Minneapolis-Moline UDLX painted in Prairie Gold. 
Page Dowdy/Chesterfield Observer Alan “Bones” Stone is curator for Colonial Heights’ Keystone Tractor Works museum, which displays unusual tractors like this 1938 Minneapolis-Moline UDLX painted in Prairie Gold. Page Dowdy/Chesterfield Observer If there’s one thing that Alan “Bones” Stone knows, it’s tractors.

“I grew up on a tobacco farm,” said Stone, curator of the Keystone Tractor Works museum in Colonial Heights. “I’ve been around tractors my whole life.”

It’s Stone’s job to look after the more than 200 tractors that make up the museum’s collection. Inside the 70,000-plus-square-foot showroom are collections of tractors, shipping trucks, classic cars, gas pumps, pinball machines, motorcycles and old neon signs.

“We have quite a few rare tractors,” said Stone, walking through rows and rows of gleaming machinery. He pointed out a strange orange tractor that looks like an overgrown Tonka truck. “This is probably one of the most sought after tractors in the world.”


More than 200 tractors are on display at the Keystone Tractor Works museum in Colonial Heights. 
Page Dowdy/Chesterfield Observer More than 200 tractors are on display at the Keystone Tractor Works museum in Colonial Heights. Page Dowdy/Chesterfield Observer The 1938 Minneapolis-Moline UDLX Comfortractor was built with a full cab, heater, and radio and could achieve speeds upward of 40 mph.

“You could farm during the day and go into town at night,” said Stone, adding

-that there are only 25 working Comfortractors left.

The machines are the private collection of Keith Jones, CEO and owner of Abilene Motor Express, a Chesterfield-based trucking company.

“It’s one of the biggest [trucking companies] in the state if not the biggest in the state,” said Stone.

Since the museum opened in October 2010, it has had 10,000 visitors.

“I’m impressed that he’s worked so hard to restore these tractors and put them on display,” said Becky Jones, Keith’s daughter and museum gift shop manager. She said her father became interested in restoring machinery after refurbishing his uncle’s tractor years ago. “He wants the public to see them, and I think that’s awesome.”

The showroom holds 160 fully restored tractors, with 100 more in progress on the museum’s grounds. As he walked, Stone — a veritable walking encyclopedia of farm equipment

— ticked off facts and figures about each tractor.

In addition to tractors, the museum also features a collection of old shipping trucks and classic cars.

A side room showcases a 1958 Mack truck, a 1922 Ahrens Fox firetruck, a 1938 REO Speedwagon, a 1941 Diamond T and a 1957 Studebaker, all painstakingly restored. The room also contains Hopewell’s first firetruck, a 1938 Ford.

“It’s one of the most sought after firetrucks in the world,” Stone said.

In the lobby, visitors are greeted by three classic Thunderbirds and other cars.

One of the most avid patrons is David Grubbs, a retired crane operator who now works as a safety director for Industrial Maintenance & Service in the county.

“I’m probably in there once or twice a week,” Grubbs said. “They keep adding new things to displays there.”

Like Stone, Grubbs grew up on a farm, and has been using tractors his whole life. He said Farmalls are his favorite type of tractor because of how easy they are to work on, and that he still owns a few.

“I think everyone would appreciate a visit there [to the museum],” Grubbs said. “It’s just an awesome place.”

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