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]

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 630 Tractor2001 John Deere 4300 TractorJohn Deere 401-r Clean Low Hours Diesel 2wd 59 Hp Tractor With Rops & 3 Pt.hitch1960 John Deere 730 Diesel Pony Start Tractor Runs Good Needs Trans Work John Deere 2840 2wd Diesel Tractor John Deere 5320 Cab Tractor-no Reserve!!!Vintage 1950`s John Deere Argentine 730 Tractor & 5 Btm. Plow~no Reserve!!John Deere 1937 Unstyled Bn B With Single Front Wheel Nice Tires New Engine WowJohn Deere MJohn Deere 2240 TractorOriginal 1970's 36" John Deere Genuine Parts Farm Tractor 2 Sided Lighted Sign1936 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-cond1979 John Deere 2wd 4640 TractorJohn Deere 670 Diesel Utility Tractor 187 Hours!John Deere 2040 TractorJohn Deere M 653 Zero Turn Mower 54 Inch Cut1983 John Deere 4850 Fwa1965 John Deere 110 Round Fender Garden Tractor With 2 MowersJohn Deere 4955 MfwdJohn Deere 1956 70 Diesel Pony Start Narrow Front 90% Complete Not Stuck In Mn1950 John Deere 445 Tractor & Tandem Disc Harrow Vintage Argentina Tin Rims John Deere 4200 2wd Diesel Tractor Very Nice John Deere Z915b Zero Turn Mower Only 64 Hours 54 Inch Cut John Deere Lt155 Riding Mower 38 Inch Cut With 2 Bag Rear BaggerVintage John Deere Ashtray Home Implement Co Platte South Dakota Tractor Nice John Deere 757 Zero Turn Mower Only 880 Hours 54 Inch Cut 1965 John Deere 4020 Standard Dual Hydraulic No Pto Tractor Runs Rare 1010 John Deere Tractor 3-point Hitch Jd 1010-330-420-430Vintage John Deere Model 730 Tractor Restored1967 John Deere 112 Tractor Head Lights & Tail LightRare 1940's Renk Plant Hybrids Metal Sign Feed Seed Corn Tractor Barn Deere Ih 1967 John Deere "5020 Diesel Tractor" 24-pg Dealers Brochure- Good ConditionJohn Deere Model 22l, 1 Row Cotton PickerHuge Lot Of Antique John Deere Tractor Parts, Engine Blocks, Heads And Much More Nice John Deere X 300 Riding Mower Only 595 HoursVintage 1950s John Deere Combined Harvesters Farm Tractor 26" Lighted Metal SignVintage John Deere Model 60 Tractor With Light On Seat RestoredVintage John Deere Tractor Advertising Glass Paperweight- RareVintage John Deere Hi-post A Tractor RestoredJohn Deere Precision 720 Diesel TractorVintage Case Tractor Work Jacket Chore Coat Orange L Farm John Deere Race RacingOliver John Deere 7 Inch Flat Lens Headlight With Bracket Antique TractorVintage John Deere Tractor (estate) FindAntique N.o.s Wico Type Ap Magneto Cap John Deere Tractor Hit Miss EngineJohn Deere Antique Tractor Parts10 John Deere A B G D 50 60 70 520 530 620 630 720 Tractor Used Axle Nuts 513John Deere 1934 Model A Tractor Collector KnifeJohn Deere Tractor Model420/430 Light Bracket No T11042tJohn Deere Seeder Cover - Antique Farm - TractorJohn Deere 1970s Logo Welcome Door Mat #2 Farm Barn Tractor Feed SeedHandcrafted John Deere 720 Tractor Replica "one Of A Kind" Folk Art - UsaVintage John Deere Mansur Corn Planter Box Cover Lid - Moline TractorOriginal 1937 John Deere Centennial Steel Plow Tractor Token Keychain Key Chain Nice John Deere 220 Reel Mower #0942John Deere M Tractor Parts Am1625t Piston Rings (missing 1 Ring)vintage Two Cyl.Old 1951 John Deere Jd Tractor Manure Spreaders Model L & M Sales BrochureJohn Deere Antique Miniature TractorVintage John Deere Clock-tractor Numbers & Tractor Sounds On The HourAntique Tractor And Implement Blue Book - Case, John Deere And More!

Recent News: John Deere Tractors

Source: Google News

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

IN MEMORIAM: Robert Moffett
Marion County Record, March 25th

He was always on the lookout for antique tractors. His first love was always John Deere tractors, but he was also on the hunt for Internationals similar to those he used on the farm growing up. He completed the collection he envisioned on his bucket list...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

The most sought after vehicles are hidden treasures
Times Herald-Record, March 24th

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

Sunday Homes: Rockport Escape
Corpus Christi Caller-Times, March 23rd

A funny story about my home: There is a John Deere riding lawnmower in the garage that is used as a golf cart. Favorite home TV show and why: Downton Abbey because of their elegant way of life. Favorite home-related book or magazine: Houston Design ...Read more

Fresh eyes see farm system
Hutchinson News, March 22nd

The old farmstead has a farmhouse, an unused cement block silo, once use for silage for cattle, a large new storage shed that contains tillage equipment and a state-of-the-art air-feed planter, a new model grain truck and an old antique truck that was...Read more

Blessing of the tractors
Cherry Hill Courier Post, March 15th

Although not a farmer by trade, Briggs is a collector of such equipment and attends annual antique shows. Understandably, he wanted ... The young farmer brought both his 1937 John Deere B and 4020 John Deere tractors. “I hope for a good year and a ...Read more