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    

1960 John Deere 730 Diesel Pony Start Tractor Runs Good Needs Trans WorkJohn Deere 5105 4x4John Deere 4520 V8 Cummins Repower Vintage 1950s John Deere Combined Harvesters Farm Tractor 26" Lighted Metal Sign1984 John Deere 4450 Tractor 145hp 16 Speed Quad Range 2 Hydraulic Remotes1936 Vintage John Deere A Tractor Unstyled Two Cylinder Jd Spoke Wheels B Ar AnJohn Deere 445 Tractor All Wheel Steer 48 Inch Deck 722 Original Hours Ex-condNo Reserve 1953 John Deere 70 GasJohn Deere 5020 Tractor Three Point Hitch Diesel Engine Remotes Pto Lift ArmsJohn Deere 2240 Tractor1950 John Deere 445 Tractor & Tandem Disc Harrow Vintage Argentina Tin RimsJohn Deere TractorVintage John Deere Model 730 Tractor Restored1979 John Deere 2wd 4640 Tractor John Deere 2840 2wd Diesel Tractor 1944 John Deere Bo Lindeman Crawler Antique Tractor No Reserve Dozer HydarulicsJohn Deere H TractorJohn Deere 2040 Tractor1983 John Deere 4850 Fwa1965 John Deere 4020 Standard Dual Hydraulic No Pto Tractor Runs Vintage John Deere Model 60 Tractor With Light On Seat RestoredJohn Deere 40Caterpillar D 2 Tractor Crawler Bulldozer Antique John Deere SteamJohn Deere 1959 730 2 Cylinder, Diesel Tractor.Very Nice John Deere Z915b Zero Turn Mower Only 64 Hours 54 Inch Cut Vintage Original John Deere Tractor Plow Clevis G675-a Antique JdJohn Deere 4430John Deere 401b 63 Hp Diesel Nice John Deere 757 Zero Turn Mower Only 880 Hours 54 Inch Cut 1951? John Deere B Tractor John Deere Lt155 Riding Mower 38 Inch Cut With 2 Bag Rear BaggerVintage John Deere Hi-post A Tractor RestoredJohn Deere M 653 Zero Turn Mower 54 Inch Cut1967 John Deere 112 Tractor Head Lights & Tail Light Nice John Deere X 300 Riding Mower Only 595 Hours1967 John Deere "5020 Diesel Tractor" 24-pg Dealers Brochure- Good ConditionJohn Deere Precision 720 Diesel TractorVintage John Deere B Tractor - Grille Panel2 Vintage John Deere Implement Clips Part No. M 975 T For Mt Tractor10 John Deere A B G D 50 60 70 520 530 620 630 720 Tractor Used Axle Nuts 5131950s John Deere Rain Gauge~nice, Original Advertising Sign~farm~tractor~troy, OJohn Deere Model 1010 Tractor Fuel Tank Float And GuageVintage John Deere 40 Two Row Utility Tractor Brochure Nice John Deere 220 Reel Mower #0943John Deere Seeder Cover - Antique Farm - Tractor Nice John Deere 220 Reel Mower #0945 Nice John Deere 220 Reel Mower #0942 Nice John Deere 220 Reel Mower #09411963-1967 John Deere 110 Garden Tractor Hood Decals Nos M40134 & M40135 $41+ Jd3 Three Vintage John Deere 620 Tractor & Baler Glasses 4-legged Deer 4.5" TallJohn Deere 1970s Logo Welcome Door Mat #2 Farm Barn Tractor Feed SeedJohn Deere Acorn Tractor Axle Nuts A B G H 50 60 70 620 630 720 730 520 530John Deere 1940's Tractor Matchbook L.s. Ulland Co. Ellendale Minnesota1935 Unstyled John Deere B Parts Tractor1936 Unstyled John Deere B Parts TractorOriginal 1937 John Deere Centennial Steel Plow Tractor Token Keychain Key ChainVintage Matchbox, #50, John Deere Tractor.1960's, Ex.cond., Lqqk !!Old 1951 John Deere Jd Tractor Manure Spreaders Model L & M Sales BrochureVintage John Deere Plow Tractor Medal Keychain

Recent News: John Deere Tractors

Source: Google News

The most sought after vehicles are hidden treasures
Times Herald-Record, March 29th

Barn finds are the inventory for a special N.Y. Barn Finds Antique & Classic Automobile Auction that's taking place on April 25 at the Orange County Fairgrounds Arena in Middletown, starting at 11 a.m. A preview will be conducted from 11 a.m.-5 p.m...Read more

April Club Calendar
Quad-Cities Online, March 28th

Quad Cities Scale Modelers, 1-4 p.m. every second Saturday, Deere-Wiman Carriage House, 10th Street and 11th Avenue, Moline. ... Quad Cities Antique Ford Club, 7 p.m. every second Tuesday, Deere-Wiman Carriage House, 817 11th Ave., Moline. ... Military...Read more

Kenneth L. Cadwallader
Palladium-Item, March 27th

He was an avid Civil War buff and loved traveling to Civil War sites. He enjoyed all things John Deere and anything oil or motorcycle related. He also had an interest in antique 2 cylinder tractors. He traveled many miles on his Harley-Davidson until...Read more

TV show explores Iowa family inheritance
Iowa Farmer Today, March 27th

Children inherit their father's collection of 140 vintage tractors, and must decide what to do with it. A woman inherits 72 portraits of the ... Dave Hawkins loved John Deere but had a variety of makes and models in his collection. IFT: What did you...Read more

David Eugene Ferguson, 80
Austin Herald, March 27th

He collected classic farm tractors of all makes, except John Deere. He enjoyed showing off his tractors at antique tractor pulls, and many area antique tractor shows. He was well-respected for his high quality work restoring classic Allis Chalmers...Read more

Museum exhibits in the Fremont area
Fremont Tribune, March 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

LaVerne R. Swiggum
La Crosse Tribune, March 25th

He belonged to the Coulee Antique Engine Club, where he always enjoyed showing his restored gas engines. LaVerne was a ... He loved to ride his John Deere 50 tractor on the farm, and participated in tractor pulls over the years. LaVerne was an avid ...Read more

Storied horse
Denton Record Chronicle, March 24th

Hughes, who restores antique cars, was looking for a fiberglass horse to refurbish as a yard ornament. On a whim, he did some research and realized the statue had a rich history. “I guess curiosity got the best of me,” he said. ... The statue is the...Read more