Fifth annual Washington Township Tractor Ride tours Springbrook

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Finnegan Book, 3, of Minburn was a little too small to drive this the fifth annual Washington Township Tractor Ride, but he got a feel behind the wheel of what the future holds. Finnegan is the son of Tom and Jenny Book.

Fifteen tractors, some more than 70 years old and some driven by farmers more than 70 years old, joined in Saturday’s fifth Washington Township Consolidated School Tractor Ride.

Dave and Kathy Book of Minburn, who help organize the annual summer tours, said this year’s 45-mile route would retrace the first year’s, with a slow drive to Springbrook State Park and back. The tractors average 10 to 12 mph.

The outward route included a stop in Yale for a cool drink at Smith Tires and then onward to Springbrook for “a lovely lunch followed by a tour of the campground,” Dave Book said.

Book said the drive home would be a little more leisurely, passing by Moffit’s Grove Cemetery in Victory Township near Yale and stopping to see the sign for the old Moffit stagecoach stop that served until 1881.

Sheryl Book, daughter of Dave and Kathy, also helps organize the annual ride. She led a brief huddle of tractor drivers prior to the start of the ride, sketching out the route and also noting a planned stop on the way back at Tom Wilkerson’s farm for a cool drink and a look at his cattle operation.

The convoy often has a few tractors fall in along the way, Sheryl Book said, and the route is often designed to pass by area nursing homes, where residents step out to see the vintage tractors and reminisce about their rural upbringings.

She said the oldest machine in this year’s ride was a 1944 McCormick-Deering Farmall H. The newest model driven in this year’s ride was a 1979 International Harvester Hydro 86 owned and operated by Craig Fleishman of Minburn.

The ride ended where it began, with pie and ice cream served as a welcome relief from Saturday’s blazing temperatures.

Proceeds from the annual tractor ride, which falls on the last weekend in June, help support ongoing restoration efforts at the Washington Township Consolidated School. The morning began with a community breakfast in the school lunchroom where about 100 were served.

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