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.
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Not a T-bird, but '47 Ford truck fills the billKansas.com, December 19th
It finally had to be pushed on with help from a tractor and unloaded with the assistance of a bunch of friendly, understanding neighbors. Part of Caywood's vision for the truck involved turning it into a flatbed with stake sides. “I wanted that bed...Read more
A perfect fitOhio's Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net, December 19th
Dylan was sitting in the tractor seat scrolling through photos of beautiful Courtney on his phone and reviewing her text messages. He had gotten this job at the Christmas tree .... The frail girl handed Dylan a beautiful antique ornament. He hung it on...Read more
North Dakota antique tractors find a new home - in NorwayTwinCities.com-Pioneer Press, December 19th
Haugen sold the tractors to a Norwegian buyer who had toured his farm a few times with Carrol Juven's Fargo-based Norwegian Cultural Tours, which brings people from Norway on tours to the Fargo area. They visit museums, tractor shows and festivals all ...Read more
In Medford, Santa trades sleigh for a tractorCherry Hill Courier Post, December 19th
That would be at Johnson's Corner Farm in Medford, where St. Nick for several years has swapped his sleigh for an antique tractor. I had not realized Santa was involved in agriculture, although his worldwide deliveries do make him the quintessential...Read more
In Purcellville, landmark Nichols Hardware reaches a hard-won milestone: 100 ...Washington Post, December 18th
It opened here 100 Decembers ago under the name Nichols & Warner, on this same street in a different world. Two years after the Titanic sank, five months after the start of World War I, Edward E. Nichols Sr. stocked his hardware store in Purcellville...Read more
Local antique tractor club brings Christmas joy to childrenShelbynews, December 15th
Thanks to the efforts of the Blue River Antique Power Association, the holiday season got a little brighter for eight Shelby County families Sunday afternoon during a Christmas party. This year's celebration marked another year the tractor club has...Read more
Photo gallery: Santa arrives at North Walsham hospital on a vintage tractorNorfolk Eastern Daily Press, December 15th
Photo gallery: Santa arrives at North Walsham hospital on a vintage tractor. The Norfolk Vintage and Classic Tractor Club arrive at North Walsham District War Memorial Hospital to deliver Christmas presents for the patients. Picture: KEITH WHITMORE...Read more
5th Annual Lighted Tractor Parade in CentraliaLongview Daily News, December 7th
The Centralia Downtown Association is organizing the widely popular event again this year. The Lighted Tractor Parade will fill the streets of downtown Centralia with vintage and modern tractors, antique trucks and construction equipment, all bedecked...Read more