Posted 7 months ago
This is a watch fob advertising Holt Bros. Manufacturing in Stockton, CA.
Photo plate #3 & 4 above is a photo of the Stockton plant in 1908.
Benjamin Holt was an American inventor, born in Concord, New Hampshire on Jan. 1, 1849, and moved to California in 1883. He developed Richard Hornsby's design for one of the first practical caterpillar tracts for use in tractors. The caterpillar type track is used to spread the weight of heavy agricultural and engineering vehicles out over a large area to prevent the vehicle from sinking into the mud.
Sinking into mud was a common problem in peat soil surrounding Stockton, California where Holt made his residence. Caterpillar tracts allowed practical cultivation on an industrial scale on the rich peat land.
In 1890, Holt built his first experimental steam traction engine. named "old Betsy". His tractor could harvest large fields for one-sixth the cost of a horse-drawn combine.
In 1892 the Holt Manufacturing Company was incorporated and they manufactured a steam-driven tractor capable of hauling 50 short tons of freight at 3 miles per hour.
While over 100 related patents for crawler-type tractor treads had already been issued worldwide, and all failed to work in the field, Benjamin Holt became the first to design and manufacture a practical continuous tracks for use on tractors and on November 24, 1904, in the fields around Stockton, California, he successfully demonstrated the first successful tract-type tractor. Caterpillar tracked tractors were credited as providing some inspiration for the invention of the military tank.
Use during World War I
A Holt tractor in the Vosges during the spring of 1915 serving as an Artillery tractor for the French army.
During World War I, Holt tractors were used to replace horses to haul artillery and other supplies. The Quartermaster Corps also used them to haul long trains of freight wagons over the unimproved dirt tracks behind the front. Holt tractors were also the inspiration for the development of the British and French tanks, which profoundly altered ground warfare tactics. By 1916, about 1000 of Holt's Caterpillar tractors were used by the British in World War I. Holt vice president Murray M. Baker said that these tractors weighed about 18,000 pounds (8,200 kg) and had 120 horsepower (89 kW). By the end of the war, 10,000 Holt vehicles had been used in the Allied war effort.
On April 22, 1918, British General Ernest Dunlop Swinton publicly honored Benjamin Holt and his company and relayed Britain's gratitude to the inventor for helping to win World War I.
After the war, British General Ernest Dunlop Swinton traveled to Stockton to publicly honor Benjamin Holt and the company for their contribution to the war and to relay Britain's gratitude to the inventor. Benjamin Holt was recognized by the General at a public meeting held in Stockton. A wooden mock-up of a one-person tank powered by a motorcycle engine was built especially for and showcased in pictures of General Swinton's visit. After the war ended, Holt focused less on agricultural machinery and more on producing road-building equipment. On December 5, 1920, 71-year-old Benjamin Holt died after a month-long illness. Five years later, the Holt Caterpillar Company merged with its strongest competitor, the C. L. Best company, to form what is now Caterpillar Inc., the 133rd largest company in the world as of 2008.
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