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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Lamar Antique Tractor CollectorFour States Homepage, February 26th
From those huge tires to the very distinctive shade of green, there's no mistaking a John Deere. But if you want to know the difference between a 1947 B.O. and a bright orange Empire model, look no farther than Lamar where one collector has 100's of ...Read more
Snowmobile Expo in West Yellowstone is Sturgis on snowGreat Falls Tribune, February 26th
At that time, there were 73 snowmobile manufacturers including Sears ad Roebuck, John Deere, and Harley Davidson. "Today, there are only four ... "We have vintage racing, which is a growing snowmobile race," Wanner said. People pull out their old ...Read more
Andover preparing for 180th AnniversaryQuad-Cities Online, February 26th
there will be events that will appeal to all ages: a parade, fireworks, contests, shows, kids fun land, 5K & fun run, barn quilt tour, model boats on the Andover Lake, delicious food, quilt show, artists, antique lawn & farm tractor show, Civil War...Read more
Museum exhibits in the Fremont areaFremont Tribune, February 26th
The exhibit features more than 35 costumes worn in 21 films and six stage productions spanning Hepburn's illustrious career, as well as vintage posters, playbills, photos and other Hepburn-related artifacts. “Sisters of Mercy: 150 Years of Serving...Read more
Sumner County property transfersThe Tennessean, February 25th
224 Vintage Cir – Kristine Deere to James Carroll, $240,000. 232 Savely Dr – John Obrien to John Obrien Tr, $0. 120 Savely Dr – Matthew House to Linda Morgan, $141,600. 235 Connie Dr – John Obrien to John Obrien Tr, $0. 242 Scarsdale Dr S – Gaines ...Read more
ULTRA's Vintage Snowmobile Rally, Swap Meet draws crowd to Little DetroitDL-Online, February 24th
And then there was the raffle, featuring a restored 1972 John Deere 400 snowmobile as its grand prize. “We sold 1,460 tickets, which was a little up from previous years,” Schlauderaff said. One of the more popular sleds on display was the “Snow-Mater” ...Read more
Deere earnings dive on ag sag; outlook downUSA TODAY, February 20th
Deere & Co. (DE) said its net income was $386.8 million, or $1.12 per share, for the quarter that ended Jan. 31., the equipment-maker's first fiscal quarter of 2015. That was a drop of 43% from the year-earlier net income of $681.1 million, or $1.81...Read more
This Nebraska man has restored 27 John Deere antique tractorsOmaha World-Herald, January 31st
Sometimes Duaine Filsinger lucks into antique John Deere tractors to restore through a friend. That has been the case several times. One of these acquisitions is a John Deere 620 gas orchard tractor that Filsinger displayed at last weekend's Tractors...Read more