In 1967, a group of fellows, in the northwestern part of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, stopped just talking about their old engines and antique equipment and decided to do something. They set a date; gathered up their old engines and equipment; and met at Joe Rebman’s farm to run them. The word quickly got out and many others gathered to watch. They all had such a good time that it was decided they should organize a non-profit club and make it an annual event.
The club was named the Northwest Michigan Engine & Thresher Club and over time the annual event became known as the Buckley Old Engine Show. Some of the founding members include: Joe Rebman, William and Sam Zue, C. Bronson, C. Coff, Morris Hulett, Carl Kreiser, Don Bantlet, Ervin and Dan Blough, Dale Gassman, C. Babcock, Clark Alexander, Ray and Leonard Clous, Keith Duff, and Basil Moored.
After a few years the club purchased 70 acres of land west of the town of Buckley and began a serious building program. Construction of permanent exhibits like the sawmill and veneer mill were started and facilities to handle crowds of people. At show time, the population of the small town of Buckley changes from a few hundred to several thousand. Over the years the club grounds has grown to more than 200 acres of land and a membership of more than 550 families.
In 1986 the club purchased a 40-70 Flour City tractor. It has rear wheels that are over 8 feet high. This tractor has become the club logo.
The club may have started as a bunch of men showing-off their old engines, but it has become much more. Now whole families participate in the activities of the club. Not only do “old men” run things, but so do young men, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and grandparents. Many hours are spent together constructing new exhibits, maintaining the club grounds, painting signs and buildings. During the show not only are we running the exhibits, but we are directing traffic, operating the shuttles, manning the information booths, cleaning the rest rooms, and emptying the trash cans.
This club is not only dedicated to the preservation of antique mechanical equipment and entertaining people at our shows, but to educating newer generations on how our great agricultural and industrial development came to be. When attending our show, if there is anything you don’t understand about the exhibits; please ask a club member; we will be happy to try to answer your question.