There are few things as American as a John Deere tractor. “Nothing runs like a Deere” is one of the most recognizable marketing slogans out there; Deere is the subject of country music songs (on a recent album, Jason Aldean sings "I’ll take you for a ride on my big green tractor…”); and Deere & Company stands alone as the last of the original U.S. tractor companies still in business.
The roots of the company date to 1837, when John Deere, a Vermont blacksmith, used a steel saw blade to make a plow that efficiently cut through tough soil. The invention was necessitated by Deere’s move that year to Rock River, Illinois, where the soil was stickier than back home in New England.
Deere soon began making steel plows for sale, hawking his creation to farmers along the Mississippi River. Deere acquired business partner after business partner, but each alliance ended in failure until he joined forces with his son Charles, a trained accountant. In 1857, Charles Deere, who would later be responsible for the rapid spread of the company’s popularity after his father’s death, was named vice president.
The Deere plows remained reliant on draft horses, but Charles Deere could see that new types of horse power would be Deere's future. Accordingly, he led the company's drive to appropriate technologies from other firms. By 1889, after the death of John Deere, the company was finally able to advertise its New Deal six-gang plow, which was powered by a steam engine. Advertisements claimed it could plow 20 acres a day at 50 cents an acre.
Steam would be an interim step for Deere, which was setting its sights on the possibilities of internal-combustion engines. What had caught Charles Deere's eye was an 1882 machine resembling a modern-day tractor. That machine was the brainchild of John Froelich, who had found a way to use a gasoline engine to pull a plow.
Froelich’s business, the Waterloo Gasoline Traction Engine Company, was not the only competitor Deere faced. In fact, the early parts of the 20th century saw many battles between Deere and its toughest competitor, International Harvester, which, like Deere, had been formed in part by acquiring other firms. It was a rivalry that would linger long after Charles Deere’s death in 1907.
In 1906, International Harvester had produced an actual tractor, which gave it a competitive edge over Deere. It took Deere until 1911 to advertise a tractor of its own, and even...
Finally, on March 14, 1918, Deere purchased Froelich’s Waterloo for $2,350,000 to get into the tractor business. Still, Deere struggled to design profitable tractors shortly after the acquisition—it wasn't until the early 1920s that Deere found success with the two-cylinder Waterloo Boys. However, because it was a one-model company, Deere was susceptible to market shifts. Rival Henry Ford was producing the Fordson tractor, which he was able to manufacture at a loss because he could offset losses with gains from his automobile line. Deere did not have that luxury.
By the middle of the decade, Deere unveiled the two-cylinder Model D Johnny Popper. Subsequent Deere models were also called Johnny Poppers or Poppin’ Johnnies, and even though Ford and International Harvester had gone to four cylinders, Deere stuck to two. The first Model Ds in 1923 and 1924 had a 26-inch spoked flywheel, which was subsequently changed to a thicker 24-inch wheel, and the steering wheel was moved to the left side of the tractor and connected to the front axle.
In 1926, Deere introduced the Model C. This unique three-row cultivator differentiated itself from rivals like International Harvester’s Farmall, which came in two- or four-row models. The tractor also used power from the engine to power the cultivator. The machine was a success and by 1927, Deere was exporting tractors around the world.
Next up for Deere was the General Purpose (GP) tractor and the GP Wide Tread tractor, released in 1928 and 1929 respectively. In 1934, the Model A was introduced—this two-plow tractor featured an adjustable tread width and burned almost any fuel. A year later, the single-plow Model B appeared—it was almost identical to the Model A, but smaller.
Deere continued to produce different tractor models to adjust to the changes in the market and technological advances. There was the Model G, a three-plow tractor released in 1938; the rare 1936 Model Y (also called the 62, only about 100 were produced), which was later converted to the three-speed Model L; and the 10-horsepower LA, introduced in 1941.
The L and LA models were made until 1946. In the decades that followed, Deere & Company moved into other areas of farm machinery, as well as the manufacture of lawn equipment. But one thing never changed—the company's signature green-and-yellow colors date to Deere's 1905 catalog.
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8-29 Community CalendarSouthernminn.com, August 28th
Featuring John Deere “Deere thru the ages”, parades, antique auction, antique tractor pull, pancake breakfast, stage entertainment daily. Go to www.pioneerpowershow.com for more information or call Mike Boettcher 507-995-1148.$10 Button 3 days ...Read more
Watch: Keith Urban Rocks Out in New “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” VideoRadio.com Music and Entertainment News, August 28th
John Deere, John 3:16,” and it's a trip down memory lane. The clip shows off Keith playing his bass guitar between snippets of nostalgic scenes that include old stores, young loves, family, cars, churches, and simpler times. Urban uses a vintage...Read more
Grain binding and the sweet smell of summerHometown Focus, August 27th
We pulled the vintage 6-foot horse-drawn, ground driven, John Deere New Light Draft Grain Binder out of the shed. We unrolled the canvases and pondered as to how they went on. The horses danced a little as the steel-wheeled machine rumbled down the ...Read more
Chesterfield County Fair has acrobats, gunslingers and a few other surprisesRichmond Times-Dispatch, August 26th
The K9s in Flight Frisbee dogs show, featured several times on television, will be a new attraction this year. Previous Next. WILD WEST GUNFIGHTS. Tumbleweed Crossing. WILD WEST GUNFIGHTS. Among the new attractions this year will be the ...Read more
Le Sueur County Pioneer Power Show This WeekendBelleplaineherald, August 26th
Situated on a 120-acre site 13 miles south of Belle Plaine on County Road 26, this year's show features “John Deere: Deere Thru the Ages.” John Deere enthusiasts will enjoy the displays of vintage John Deere equipment, tractors, lawn and garden tools...Read more
Bringing back old ways, old daysAlton Telegraph, August 23rd
DOW — The Tri-County Antique Club celebrated its 25th year of taking visitors back to yesteryear this weekend during its silver anniversary of its annual Olden Days Festival. “Blue Suede Shoes” and other old-time favorites were played by a band as...Read more
See Nearby DealersMachineFinder, August 19th
Organizers of the 42nd Annual Le Sueur County Pioneer Power Show have announced that antique John Deere tractors, equipment and gas engines will highlight the event, slated to take place between August 28 and 30. The exhibition has been titled, ...Read more
John Deere Pavilion presents heritage tractor parade and show – Sep. 12KWQC-TV6, August 12th
MOLINE, Ill. (KWQC) – For the fourth consecutive year, the John Deere Pavilion will present the Quad Cities Area Heritage Tractor Parade and Show. The event on Saturday, September 12, 2015 will feature a variety of antique tractors and equipment as...Read more