Plow museum digs up part of Rusk County history

County By County

RUSK COUNTY, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – One man’s passion is now one of the largest collections of its kind in a museum.

Today in County by County, First News at Nine’s Maria Blough shares how an exhibit at the Rusk County Historical Museum shares a forgotten part of history.

Rusk County native Ed Tomasovich has a love for restoration, crossing Wisconsin and the Midwest in search of his next project.

He’s spent years of his life studying, searching, and repairing a certain type of machine that turned the very foundation of rusk county to the future.

That machine? The plow.

Alan Christianson is a member of the Rusk County Historical Museum. During his time as a city administrator in Ladysmith, he worked with Tomasovich to bring this collection of early 20th century plows and tractors to the rusk county historical museum.

Alan Christianson, Rusk Co. Historical Museum said, “We were afraid at some point in time that collection would be sold at auction and spread around the country, and it’s really nice that it can be here in one place so people who are interested in that part of history can come and visit.”

This collection of around 45 different plows and some tractors is called Wisconsin’s Plow Museum, an honor from the state recognizing its uniqueness.

It’s also known as Ed’s Machine Shed in honor of the man whose persistence started it all.

“He tried to have every model possible that might be in a series. I know there are groupings of John Deere plows here that have similar production numbers they were made to do different jobs though. Ed tried to put together one example of each,” said Christianson.

Each and every plow in this collection bridges the county and even the state’s origins to where they stand now.

“The plows and tractors tell a missing piece in the story of the conversion of not only this part of Wisconsin but most of Wisconsin and even the Midwest a transition from lumbering–timber removal– to agriculture,” said Christianson.

Christianson says that while fewer people work in agriculture now than they did during the time of the plow, it’s still an important industry for the county.

These plows in Ed’s Machine Shed, show the evolutions in agriculture that made it all possible.

Christianson said, “We started with horses and single blade plows then moved to tractors like these that you see here in this collection and these kinds of plows, some of these were designed to turn over wetland soils and some of them to go into brushland and till that soil for the first time ever.”

While Wisconsin’s Plow Museum is only a fraction of the Rusk County Historical Museum, it’s a perfect example of what museum curator Janet Platteter says makes this place so unique.

“All of the displays that we have in this museum, the items were donated by wonderful rusk county residents or former rusk county residents and it’s just such a tribute to the people who have lived here,” said Platteter.

At the Rusk County Historical Museum and In Ed’s Machine Shed, it’s a place for, about and by the county.

For County by County, Maria Blough First News at Nine.

All the artifacts in the more than ten buildings that make up the museum are original. Because the historical society’s mission is to share history with the community, there is no cost for admission.

It operates off of donations and community support.

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