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Sunday, August 25, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Walla Walla: Eastern Washington farmers flock to tractor show as they consider motorization

Nearly 70 motorized tractors performed a series of demonstration runs before a crowd estimated at 10,000 farmers in Walla Walla, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on April 23, 1919. (Spokesman-Review archives)
Nearly 70 motorized tractors performed a series of demonstration runs before a crowd estimated at 10,000 farmers in Walla Walla, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on April 23, 1919. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Nothing illustrated the revolution taking place in Eastern Washington agriculture better than a spectacular event held in Walla Walla.

Nearly 70 motorized tractors performed a series of demonstration runs before a crowd estimated at 10,000.

Many farmers were in the midst of switching from horses to tractors, and this event was designed to show them exactly what these big new machines could do.

These powerful tractors pulled plows that “turned the turf like an incoming tide at the beaches,” according to one witness. An official observing committee, made up of farmers, pronounced the results as “near perfect.”

The next demonstration, scheduled later in the day, would test the tractors on a 40 percent grade — a critical test for many farmers, especially in the hilly Palouse.

So many people were in attendance that officials announced that Walla Walla residents were opening up their homes to people who could find no accommodations.

“The show grounds look like a big encampment of a tank corps in France from a distance, and commands a beautiful view of the valley and the mountains,” said a correspondent.

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