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Iowa museum seeks connections for mystery machinery

By Staff | Nov 21, 2015

LE MARS (AP) – Plymouth County Historical Museum personnel are working on a mystery.

According to Wayne Marty, a volunteer at the museum, a piece of machinery was left on the museum grounds in late April or early May.

“It was just dropped off in front of the museum, where the (Joy Hollow) log cabin is now,” Marty said. “When they started doing the log cabin work, it was moved to the back of the museum to get it out of the way.”

Marty began his detective work by examining the machine and found a name tag on it with the name, Crippen Manufacturing, Alma, Michigan.

“The company still exists. I called them and they were very cooperative, and dug out some stuff and sent it to me,” Marty said. He learned the machine is a portable seed cleaning unit.

The Michigan company also sent information on a similar, but larger, seed cleaning unit which it also produced.

The unit left at the museum, a GS-54 Portable, was purchased in August 1948 by Kruse Brothers Elevator Co. in Little Rock, in Lyon County, according to a purchase receipt provided to Marty by the company.

The elevator was owned by Alfred and Richard Kruse, who operated it for 29 years, according to a clipping of Alfred’s obituary.

“The elevator still exists, but it’s a co-op now,” Marty said. “I have pursued it with them.

“You might have an old guy around who might remember it.”

Marty attempted to learn more about the machine through a license plate on it, but was unsuccessful.

The blue 1986 Iowa license plate has a 1992 renewal sticker.

Now Marty and museum personnel want to know who brought the machine to the museum, and why.

“I don’t think we’ll keep this for the museum unless we can make some kind of meaningful Plymouth County connection,” Marty said. At the same time, he’s reluctant to simply get rid of it.

“If anyone else is interested in it, a machinery club, the key thing is we are trying to decide where the best place is for this machine, which we know so little about,” Marty said.

He added there is more research that could be done.

“The museum does get stuff thrown at it, but usually we know from where it has come,” Marty said.

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