DENISON — “Frame built entirely of steel, practically indestructible, Sarven wheels with broad tires, light direct draft, easy of adjustment, does its own plowing, and will do a larger variety of road and ditch work than any other machine of its class, and with a saving of 75 per cent over Plows and Scrapers,” announced an 1890 advertisement for the Austin Steel Reversible Road Machine.
The machine was a horse-drawn plow/road grader that was manufactured in the 1890s.
An intact example of the Austin Steel Reversible Road Machine now sits outside of the Crawford County Secondary Roads Department Maintenance Garage on Fifth Avenue South, about a half-block west of South Main Street, in Denison.
The machine was purchased by former Crawford County Bridge Crew foreman Terry Lally at the estate auction of Brian O’Neill of Denison, who died in April 2019.
Lally donated the Austin Steel machine to the Crawford County Secondary Roads Department and it was put on outdoor display last fall.
O’Neill’s friend Richard Rosener, of Vail, was with O’Neill when he purchased the plow/road grader about five years ago “just over the line in Missouri.”
Rosener said O’Neill had always wanted an old road grader.
“If you knew Brian, when he saw something he wanted, he bought it,” Rosener said.
“Anything old like that was usually enough to get my dad to turn the car around and start asking questions,” Riley O’Neill told the Denison Bulletin and Review. “Usually it also ended up on the trailer coming home with him to play around with it.”