The first tractors in the United States were introduced in the middle of the 19th century and were powered by steam. Known as traction engines, the source of the word "tractor," these steam tractors were used for both plowing and threshing. Manufacturers of early steam tractors included Minneapolis Threshing Machine Co., J.I. Case, and Advance-Rumely.
In 1892, an Iowa inventor named John Froelich built the first gasoline-powered tractor, although acceptance of this new technology would not become widespread until the beginning of the 20th century. During that period, many of the most familiar names in the farm-equipment business got into the tractor trade, from International Harvester (1906) to J.I. Case (1912) to Allis-Chalmers (1914) to John Deere, which bought out Froelich in 1918. Even car-maker Henry Ford got into the act when, in 1918, the first Fordson tractors rolled off Ford’s Dearborn assembly line (Ford withdrew from the farm-equipment business in 1927).
Early International Harvester tractors included the Mogul, which ran on kerosene, gasoline, or naptha and had a single, easy-to-repair cylinder. In its first year of production, 1906, the tractor’s engine ranged from 10 to 20 horsepower, and friction drove its wheels. Within a year the friction drive was dumped for gears and the tractor’s power had been increased to 25hp.
In the mid-1910s, the 4-cyclinder Titan appeared, and by the end of the decade, International Harvester came out with the Junior, whose engine was enclosed under a bonnet in a style that defined tractor design for decades to come. Both competed with another International Harvester tractor, the blue-bodied, red-wheeled McCormick-Deering 15-30, which was used by wheat farmers throughout the 1920s and into the 1930s.
One of the most famous International Harvesters was the Farmall, introduced in 1920. This all-around tractor had a wide rear axle so that the wheels could ride between rows during cultivating. The first Farmall was called the Regular, followed by models F-20 and F-30, some of which were configured with a wide axle in the front and high clearances. Other pre-war Farmalls included the Model A Cultivision (designed to cultivate a single row), the 8hp Cub, and the Raymond Loewy-designed Farmall H, all of which were painted a deep, classic red.
The first Case tractors had enormous engines (30 to 60hp), although tractors with smaller engines quickly followed. These three-wheel, "cross-motor" tractors had 4-cylinder engines, but the breakthrough for the company came in 1929 with the release of the Case L and its smaller cousin, the C, whose in-line engine became an industry standard. In the 1930s, Case introduced the D series (painted in Flambeau red and black) and the R series, whose grilles had an Art Deco sunburst design. The unprofitable V made the 1940s a shaky decade for the company, but Case got back on track in the 1950s with the Case 300 and 400, which set a record in 1956 for fuel economy.
In contrast, the first Allis-Chalmers tractors started out small (6 to 12hp). Low, orchard versions of these tractors were produced, as was a model with spiked wheels. By 1922, i...
John Deere’s first years in the tractor business were spent manufacturing bright-green Waterloo Boy tractors, which was the name of the Froelich tractor company it had purchased in 1918. Deere’s first non-Froelich tractor was the model D, whose 2-cylinder horizontal engine remained in production for more than 30 years. The GP followed in 1929, although reviews were not good (it was underpowered, among other problems), the Henry Dreyfuss designed A appeared in 1934, and the first Deere diesel, the 2-cylinder model R, arrived in 1949. Among other landmarks, it was the first John Deere tractor to feature the company’s now famous "leaping deer" logo.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
McCormick International Harvester Collection
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Tractors
Source: Google News
WATCH: Flintshire vintage tractor run rolls on despite downpourDaily Post North Wales, July 11th
A dramatic downpour was water off a duck's back for a group of hardy vintage tractor enthusiasts. More than 60 tractors took part in a charity road run organised by Flintshire Vintage & Classic Tractor Society. Some drivers brought vehicles from as far...Read more
Tractor collector says this week is the last time he'll display his 70 ...Akron Beacon Journal, July 9th
Antique tractors line the property at 679 Congress Lake Road, creating a rainbow of color that has been known to cause passing motorists to stop, back up, and take a second look. For years, Carl Rufener has displayed his collection — now numbering 70 ...Read more
Antique and Tractor Expo will bring history to life July 12Price County Daily, July 9th
The fifth annual Price County Antique and Tractor Expo will be held on Saturday, July 12, at the Price County Fairgrounds. The day kicks off at 9 a.m., with an event-filled day running until 8 p.m.. The annual event is organized by the Price County...Read more
Historical Society planning antique tractor parade in ButlerLimaOhio.com, July 8th
The Butler-Clear Fork Valley Historical Society is accepting entries for an Antique Tractor Parade to be held Friday, August 1, in Butler. The tractors will gather between 2 and 3 p.m. in the parking lot of the Three Crosses United Methodist Fellowship...Read more
Antique tractor show honors farming pastFox11online.com, July 7th
Hermsen is a member of the Fox Valley Two Cylinder Club. The club has held an antique tractor show at the Petersen Dairy Farm in Appleton for more than 20 years. Monday they were back. “6 of us started this and every year it grows more and more and ...Read more
Schuyler County antique tractor show grows goodwillElmira Star-Gazette, July 4th
An antique steam roller was on display Friday at the Antique Tractor & Engine Show south of Montour Falls. The show continues through the weekend and is a fundraiser for local charities. / G. JEFFREY AARON / STAFF PHOTO ...Read more
Vintage tractors on display at farmer's marketOskaloosa Herald, July 1st
OSKALOOSA — The farmer's market and tractors are a perfect match — there was a display of antique tractors at the Saturday morning farmer's market in Oskaloosa. Farmer's Market Director Sandi Fell called Mahaska County Fairboard member John ...Read more
Antique Tractors Connect Enthusiasts with PastTwin Falls Times-News, June 22nd
The antique tractor owners converged on the Valley Wide Home & Ranch store in Rupert over the weekend for the show. Old machinery — 15 tractors built between 1909 and 1970 — filled the store's parking lot as hamburgers sizzled on a nearby grill...Read more