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.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Steel Wheels

Steel Wheels

David Parfitt's excellent and comprehensive tribute to pre-1930s tractors. The well-posed, high resolution photos i… [read review or visit site]

McCormick International Harvester Collection

McCormick International Harvester Collection

Farm and tractor collectors will appreciate this incredible trove of 30,000 images and documents on the Internation… [read review or visit site]

AntiqueTractors.com

AntiqueTractors.com

A great reference and community forum on antique tractors. Start with the 39-page master photo list, showing thousa… [read review or visit site]



Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

John Deere 820 830 80 730 720 70 R G D A 530 520 40201940 John Deere Model G Unstyled TractorJohn Deere 40John Deere 70 All Fuel Standard 50 60 80 40 720 730 830 80 820 G 1997 John Deere Tractor 6300John Deere 4 Bottom 14 Inch Slat Plow For Tractors, Pull Type, Hydraulic Lift John Deere R In Excellent Shape Great Rubber John Deere A B G H D M R 7301936 John Deere Unstyled B Antique Tractor No Reserve Spokes Farmall Oliver Case1940 John Deere H With Cultivators Restored1936 John Deere A Antique Tractor Running-starts Great With Pto1958 John Deere 420 S Slant Steer Cultivators Side Dresser No Reserve Farmall1987 John Deere 4250 MfwdJohn Deere 4630 TractorJohn Deere B Antique Tractor No Reserve Long Hood Farmall Allis Chalmers CaseJohn Deere 755 Tractor With Belly Mower. Shipping Available! John Deere 4640B John Deere Tractor Engine Carburetor 1941-1946 Dltx34 Jd BJohn Deere Tractor 72" John Deere 420 Tractor Three Point Hitch 3 Pt. Assy. 316 317 318 320 322 332 430Antique John Deere Dain Cast Iron Implement / Tractor Seat Painted Green2007 John Deere 7420 Tractor 135hp John Deere 20 Speed Quad Range Mfwd Nice John Deere X 300 Riding Mower Only 595 Hours1951 John Deere A John Deere 3235 Diesel Reel Mower1965 John Deere 110 Garden TractorAntique Vintage John Deere 6886-c Tractor Pto Air Compressor 2 Cylinder TractorsGood Antique Vintage John Deere Tractor Pulling Hitch Plow ClevisJohn Deere Tractor With Belly Mower. Shipping Available! 1961 John Deere 4010 Tractor 2wd 80hp Pto S/n 2t3175, Only 2464 Hours!Vtg John Deere Pto Tractor Tire Air Pump Compressor Antique Jd OriginalFord 9n,2n.8n John Deere M,mt Antique Tractor Carburetor Marvel Schebler Tsx 33Antique Original John Deere Tractor Seat --jd Logo/ 4 Legged DeereRare Vintage John Deere Tractor MowerJohn Deere Tractor With Belly Mower. Shipping Available! Vintage John Deere Tractor 1950'sJohn Deere Antique Tractor Rims For An LJohn Deere Tractor Model M-mt-mc-40- 420 6 Volt Starter With Operating LeverB John Deere Tractor Engine Exhaust Pipe 1941-1946 Jd BJohn Deere Tractor Model A/b/g/h Apn Seat Umbrella Bracket Clamp F518a1943 John Deere B Tractor 12 Spline Rear Wheel 9 Bolt Hub For Pressed Steel Rim13 Vintage John Deere Tractor & Farm Equipment Operator Manuals ***10 Vintage John Deere Operators Manuals 5020 Tractor & More Good *** John Deere 755 2wd Diesel Tractor With Belly Mower [ Fixer Upper ]Antique John Deere Tractor Dash Part Wall Hanger Display Vintage Original GaugeOld Vintage Farm John Deere Tractor Sales Literature Planter 12a 25 55 CombineJohn Deere Late Styled A B G R Rear Seat Light Off A 1949 A Tractor An Aw Bn BwJohn Deere 70 Or 720 Diesel HoodVintage.. John Deere... Bullet Pencil..robertson Tractor Mountain Grove MoVintage John Deere Tractor & Implement Matchbook Arlington MinnesotaAntique John Deere Farm Implement / Tractor Wrenches Vintage Tool Barn DecorVintage Photo Farmer's Daughter Pretty Girls On John Deere Farm Tractor 580195

Recent News: John Deere Tractors

Source: Google News

Vintage vehicles on show at Long Melford Vintage Rally
East Anglian Daily Times, July 5th

which is organised by Farm Machinery Preservation Society, attracted crowds across Saturday and Sunday. Many of the exhibitors camped at the west Suffolk venue overnight for the long-established event. Vehicles on show included vintage John Deere ...Read more

Owasco celebrates the Fourth of July at annual parade
Auburn Citizen, July 4th

The parade began promptly at 2 p.m. at Second Ave and worked its way onto Owasco Road before ending at the Fire Department entertaining folks of all ages with local Scout groups, organizations, veterans and antique tractors and cars all throwing the...Read more

Antique farm show, threshing bee in Mankato
Salina Journal, July 4th

MANKATO — Old tractors and farm gear will be among the attractions of the 38th annual Antique Farm Machinery Show & Threshing Bee on July 18 and 19 at the park on U.S. Highway 36. John Deere tractors and equipment will be featured. A drawing for a ...Read more

Bernie Sanders urges Iowa crowd of 2500 to 'think big'
DesMoinesRegister.com, July 3rd

In Denison, local plumber Brian O'Neal convinced Sanders to climb aboard his antique John Deere tractor to pose for a picture. He said Sanders seems to be more down-to-earth than other candidates, especially those running on the right. "Most of the GOP ...Read more

Steam and Gas Association show is three days of nostalgia, history and fun
MLive.com, July 3rd

This year, Allis-Chalmers and Rumley tractors will be featured, but visitors also will see John Deere, Farmall, Oliver, Ford, Case, and Minneapolis – Moline. Kerosene ... Old garden tractors, vintage walk-behind tractors, and antique tools will also be...Read more

Towne of Greeneville to host American Downtown 4th of July Parade
WJHL, July 3rd

Entry categories include: classic vehicle, antique tractor, motorcycle, military, club or civic organization, historic re-enactor, musical entertainment, church or school group, horse or horse-drawn, ATV, and more. ... Andrew Johnson Bank, DTR...Read more

Oh, Deere! Eighth annual antique ride set for July 9-11
La Crosse Tribune, July 2nd

On the northern route, riders will visit Bill Yahnke's place in Holmen, formally called Yahnke's Antique Green, which features a notable collection of 80 John Deere tractors and has drawn a fair share of attention. Food there will be provided by...Read more

Two-Cylinder Club Gears up for Final Vintage John Deere Expo
MachineFinder, July 1st

An exhibit of John Deere vintage machinery will highlight the event, along with an auction of the famous collection of Dean Stump, a privately assembled John Deere memorabilia collection. The 25th Two-Cylinder Club event will also include an ...Read more