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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Across the Fence #563
The Westby Times, September 2nd

A John Deere tractor with the man attached in the seat is shown. I've seen two of those tractors in antique stores with $750.00 price tags on them! I think ours probably ended up in the dump, or along with other discarded old “junk” to fill in the...Read more

Mary C. McBride
Mason City Globe Gazette, September 1st

She was employed as a pharmacist with United Health Care/John Deere prior to retiring in 2014. ... Iowa Pharmacist Association serving as a delegate to the IPA Convention, past President of Junior Board of Rock Island (chaired the Mardis Gras Ball in...Read more

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Monte Vista Journal, September 1st

Queen bed, dresser, nightstands, chair, ottoman, antique bed, vanity, foosball, backpacking, camping, skiing, four 15” tires with rims, four 16”, Bronco wear, memorabilia, much more!! Sept. ... For sale: John Deere 260 skid loader with forks and bucket...Read more

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Agri News, September 1st

MOLINE, Ill. — For the fourth consecutive year, the John Deere Pavilion in Moline on Sept. 12 will present the Quad Cities Area Heritage Tractor Parade and Show. The event will feature a variety of antique tractors and equipment, as well as blacksmith ...Read more

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The Daily News Online, August 30th

Alvin Lindsay, 85, of Castile and his family were participating for what would be the first time, with three generations of family members set to be driving — including a vintage John Deere model. “I bought it brand-new in May of 1950,” he said. “I've...Read more

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Twin Falls Times-News, August 30th

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See Nearby Dealers
MachineFinder, 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

MachineFinder, John Deere and the associated trademarks are property and ...
MachineFinder, August 12th

John Deere announced on Aug. 10 that the John Deere Pavilion in Moline, Ill., will be the site of the Quad Cities Area Heritage Tractor Parade and Show for the fourth year in a row. At the event, slated to take place on Sept. 12, antique tractors and...Read more