Friday, April 20, 2012

Melton's Machinery Museum: Preserving Agricultural History

Florida farmer, Steve Melton, collects antique agricultural machinery in Dade City, Florida. Melton mixes interesting historical facts with funny personal stories.

Steve Melton, farmer and collector of antique farm equipment,
Melton's Machinery Museum, Dade City, Fla.

He passion for old machinery goes beyond the collection process. He restores each piece to working order, places them carefully in his museum, and takes people on walking tours of his collection.

Back in January, I joined 30 or so people on a AgriTunity pre-show farm trip to Melton's Machinery Museum. It was very wet and cold the day of the tour but Melton's glowing personality soon warmed us up.

Other agricultural machinery items, Melton's Machinery Museum,
Dade City, Fla.

His museum included many machines from the turn of the 20th Century as well as some before. There were hand-cranking ones for corn processing and gas powered ones for flour milling. There was even a 25-foot or so, tomato harvesting machine that Melton said he had not got out of fourth gear because it was too scary a ride.

Tomato harvesting machine at Melton's Machinery Museum,
Dade City, Fla.

In another shed, he had a sugar cane production area where he boiled down the juice from crushed sugar cane to make cane syrup. He had bottles for sale at $5 each.

Sugar cane juice boiler, Melton Machinery Museum,
Dade City, Fla.

He even has the trunk of an old turpentine tree. He said, it was the number one industry in Florida at the turn of the last century but was lost when gasoline came into use.

Steve Melton pointing to turpentine tree
Melton's Machinery Museum,
Dade City, Fla.

If ever you ever find yourself in Dade City, look up Steve Melton. Set aside an afternoon to tour his Machinery Museum and talk to him. He is one of the most interesting people you will ever meet. His website has more information

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