Thursday, August 8, 2013


Mullinville, Kansas is home to American folk-artist, M.T. Liggett, a Kansas treasure - a man who loves living and saying what is on his mind.

M.T. Liggett and KWCH reporter Hannah Davis
M.T. often parodies local figures in his sculptures, especially the town council, making him an object of controversy among the powers that be and a subject for conversation at the coffee shop. His detractors might mumble under their breath that he should raise more corn and less Cain, but this would be unfair, M.T. is a gentle soul who quietly makes his point with his art.

This story is not about M.T.; he deserves a book. Instead, it is about his collection of ancient farm tractors amassed over the years. Once they plowed the fields, now, they stand like the monolithic stones at Stonehenge, silently waiting for some visitor from a thousand years hence to decipher their meaning.

the tractors of M.T. Liggett
The tractor in the foreground calls out to me. Had I the sense, I would have inspected the hood for the maker. Instead, I was overcome by the immensity of M.T.'s work, there are sculptures everywhere - in his barn, on his lawn, and most conspicuously, along the highway where the cars and semis pass by.

old tractor, no tires

Back to the tractor, whose most salient feature is its lack of tires. Tires are now a common feature of every mode of transportation. But it wasn't always so. It was Harvey S. Firestone, a fourth-generation farmer from Columbiana, Ohio, who founded the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in July 1900, in Akron, Ohio – a city later known as “Rubber City", that from necessity created the invention. The invention did not happen until 1932 when he produced the world’s first pneumatic tractor tire.
So, I am left staring at a pre-1932 tractor by an unknown maker. Maybe, someday I will go back to M.T. Liggett's and learn the rest of the story.

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