Bob Smith was a treasure hunter but what he searched for are the marvels that changed the world of farming.
Going on 40 years, the farm kid who got on his first tractor before he was ten has been helping to preserve these innovative tools.
In that time, more than 150 antique tractors, more than 200 gas engines and 50 classic cars.
There’s also many collectibles and memorabilia.
This weekend, it will be sold in an auction at the Great River Threshing Grounds in Miles, Iowa.
Across the site, Bob Smith’s collection covers most.
Bob Smith’s daughter Lisa Kraska said, “My dad was a lot of things but what I realize being here is he’s a historian.”
There’s a lot to Bob Smith’s legacy but what’s in focus right now are the rare finds of an early motored age.
Bob Smith’s wife Jean Smith said, “So many items at are just irreplaceable.”
The final steps underway, as Bob’s wife Jean, daughter Lisa and friends… get Bob’s pride and joys ready for bids.
Jean Smith said, “Absolutely humbling the people that have come to help here and the respect that they have for him.”
Kraska said, “I really love the cars but as a young person always wanted to drive them and he never let me, so I got to drive one of his corvettes out yesterday.”
That’s how it started in 1979 with a car Bob brought home from an auction.
Jean Smith said, “He rebuilt that and it’s here in the auction.”
But that was the first of many items with a motor from auctions to find Bob’s skillful hands, especially if it was rooted in agriculture lore.
Kraska said, “He’s mechanically inclined and he loved the challenge of it.”
As people begin arriving to marvel at what Bob’s accumulate from across the country.
Auction participant Marlin Turinski said, “I came from north Idaho and a half-hour drive from the Canadian border.”
The man behind this bountiful treasure is no longer here to share his knowledge of this passion.
Bob passed away last October, but until the end, he continued what he loved.
Jean Smith said, “He was on auction oxygen and he carried his oxygen tank to the auctions with him.”
And with such a massive collection, Jean said she knew her and the family couldn’t care for it all and want each artifact to find a caring new home with collectors like Marlin Turinski.
Turinski said, “I’ve never seen anything like it, for somebody to have the passion for the same thing I do. Some piece of steel that was made 100 years ago.”
While his family it will be hard to part with what was a huge part of who Bob was.
Kraska said, “We love his collection, there’s a part of us that says we loved to keep it.”
It’s also fulfilling a historian’s wish.
Jean Smith said, “He wanted young people to really take an interest in it.”
What Bob’s collection is about is saving a piece of history.
The auction starts Saturday, Aug. 3 at 9 a.m. and continues through Sunday. Bids will be taken on-site and online.