Gene Loxtercamp is a professor of 19th century farm implements. Loxtercamp, a 70-something farmer of 500 acres in western Stearns County, started collecting and studying horse-drawn farm implements in the early 1980s. Since then he’s amassed a monumental collection of agricultural implements and tools ranging from relatively small seed — potato cutters to a collection of soil packers, horse-drawn wagons including a tobacco wagon and two water wagons for steam threshers, along with lots of tillage equipment.
Amongst the tillage equipment is a digger made by Kovar Manufacturing. Loxtercamp knows about the digger’s origins and how Kovar, a farmer who had a weed problem, turned his homemade implement into a manufacturing enterprise whose ideas were widely imitated and still in use today.
Loxtercamp knows as much about many of his other implements as he knows about his Kovar digger. When discussing a particular implement and its origins he’s likely to point out that he has the documents on it. Loxtercamp, like any professor, has a network of colleagues across the country. Many are fellow collectors but some of them specialize in locating and preserving the paperwork describing an implement. In most cases they are well over a century old.
If he doesn’t know the origins of an implement he’ll reach out to his colleagues. A small triangular shaped mostly wooden digger that he’s just finished restoring has stumped him.
“I can’t find anybody who knows about it,” he said. “If any readers of The Land know anything about it please have them contact me.”
Loxtercamp’s restoration to the wooden digger was minor. He just made shims to keep the digger shoes tight enough so that they won’t fall out when it’s in use. He’s done major restorations to some other implements, however.
“If they are in really bad shape when I get them I’ll do a complete restoration,” he said.
A complete restoration of a wagon, for example, will include replacing damaged or missing wooden and metal parts as well as a paint job. Loxtercamp likes detail so the paint job will include the lettering that was on the original wagon.
Professor Loxtercamp doesn’t sell any of his implements and tools. He does, however demonstrate them at annual field days at the Stearns County Fair, at community festivals, and at field days for Northern Minnesota Draft Horse Association (www.nmdha.com). The Association has a number of videos that show demonstrations by Loxtercamp and others. You can reach Gene Loxtercamp at (320) 987-3254.