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.

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    

Ford 4000 Diesel Antique Tractor No Reserve Reverser 2000 8n 9n Farmall DeereJohn Deere 4300 4x4 Compact Tractor *****no Reserve******1940 Oliver 70 Antique Tractor No Reserve Excellent Original 77 88 99 Farmall1955 Allis Chalmers G Antique Tractor No Reserve Hydraulics Farmall John DeereInternational Farmall 650 Diesel Antique Tractor No Reserve Mccormick Oliver58 John Deere 630 Lp Antique Tractor No Reserve A B G H D M 730 830 530 Farmall1936 John Deere B Tractor1944 Farmall M Antique Tractor No Reserve H A B C International Harvestor Oliver53 John Deere 60 Antique Tractor No Reserve 70 80 50 40 A B G H D Farmall Oliver1959 John Deere 730 Electric Start Diesel Antique Tractor No Reserve 530 Farmall1945 Farmall Tractor Model H1957 John Deere 320 S Antique Tractor No Reserve A B G H 420 520 Farmall OliverInternational 706 Farmall Tractor Nice John Deere 2320 4 X 4 Mower Tractor 1959 John Deere 730 3 Point- WeightsNice Ford 1220 2 Wheel Drive Diesel Tractor With Mower Deck1952 Red Farmall Cub Tractor With ImplementsNice Diesel Ford 3910 Tractor (lower Reserve)1937 John Deere A Tractor B H G 1959 Ih Farmall 460 Gas Tractor - No Reserve Bid To Win!!! -Vintage 1950's This Farm Equipped Ford Tractor 22" Metal Sign1958 International Farmall Hi Utility Antique Tractor No Reserve Deere Oliver1954 John Deere 70 Antique Gas Tractor No Reserve A B G H D 40 50 60 80 FarmallVintage Eska John Deere Tractor With The Original Box John Deere Z925a Zero Turn Mower John Deere 757 Zero Turn MowerVintage Farm Tractor John Deere Grain Drill Green Lids 1/16 No Box Ertl 1942 Farmall H John Deere Tractor1953 Super "m" Farmall TractorVintage Tracto Motor Oil Sign With Farm A+++ Tractor Deere IhVintage John Deere 620 Tractor 1950's Ertl/eskaVintage John Deere Repairs Cabinet,advertising Store Sign Drawer,tractor,antiqueFarmall Tractor Cub F 1952 With Belly MowerJohn Deere 720lp 80 60 50 40 720 730 830 820 G 4020 A 530 520Vintage Farm Tractor John Deere 720 & Loader Precision #18 Ertl 1/16 High DetailFarmall 1206 Turbo Tractor & Accessories, Ertl Company, Original Vintage ToyVintage Farmall A Tractor Distributor Unit Ihc Distributor B C Sc H Sh M Sm DistFord 8n TractorVintage Farmall B Tractor Grill Ihc A Grill Ihc Sheet Metal Grill Part Rat RodVintage Ford Tractor Pto 9n-740-a Paper Flat Belt Pulley Assembly 9n 8n 2nFarmall Tractor 300John Deere Unstyled A Antique Tractor No Reserve Roundspokes B G D Farmall CaseAntique Tractor Kansas Photo Team Rumely Oil Pull John Deere Samson DeeringVintage Ih Mccormick Farmall 230 Wide-wheel 1/16 Scale Ertl Farm TractorJohn Deere Tractors1953 Ford Golden JubileeVintage John Deere Tractor & 3 Farm Implements 1:16 ScaleVintage 1950's 1/16 Farmall 560 Diecast TractorFarmall 1256 Tractor 1/16 Ertl Vintage Farm Toy International IhVintage Farm Tractor John Deere Grain Drill Green Lids 1/16 No Box Ertl Vintage 1/16 Diecast John Deere TractorVintage Mccormick Farmall Farm Tractor 31" Embossed Metal Emblem Sign~niceVintage Loader For John Deere Toy 60 Or 620 Tractor With Box 1/16 Carter1979 John Deere 4640Vintage John Deere A Tractor Carburetor Dltx 71 Carburetor Jd Carburetor PartVintage Ford Tractor Sign - Farming - Not PorcelainVintage Farm Sickle Bar Hay Mower Field Cutter. Diecast Tractor Toys John DeereJohn Deere 3010 Diesel TractorVintage Ihc Farmall Cub Tractor -belly Mower Brkts ?

Recent News: Tractors

Source: Google News

Stoystown Antique Tractor Festival highlights
Daily American Online, August 3rd

2 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. AND PLEASE TURN OFF CAPS LOCK. 3 Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything. 4 Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to ...Read more

Vintage trucks, tractors fuel enthusiasm at Stafford event
The Daily News Online, August 2nd

Sharon Mattice of Stafford wipes off her 1935 Ford truck during Saturday's Empire State Antique Truck Association's Truck, Tractor and Construction Equipment Show. She has owned the truck for 54 years. (Mark Gutman/Daily News ...Read more

John Deere to be featured tractor at Antique Machinery show
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, July 28th

John Deere to be featured tractor at Antique Machinery show. July 29, 2015. From Staff Reports , Williamsport Sun-Gazette. Save | Post a comment |. LOYALSOCKVILLE - It's an all-John Deere theme for the 28th annual Loyalsock Valley Antique Machinery ...Read more

11th Annual Preston County Antique Tractor Show Educates Youth on Farm Equipment
WBOY-TV, July 26th

The 11th Annual Preston County Antique Tractor Machinery and Vehicle Show took place on July 25-26. The first show was organized by the Preston County Antique Tractor Association in 2005. It ended with an awards ceremony for categories including best ...Read more

Raitt Homestead hosts Antique Tractor and Engine Show
Foster's Daily Democrat, July 25th

ELIOT, Maine – The smell of gasoline and fried food drifted over the beautiful fields of the Raitt Homestead Farm Museum Saturday at the annual Antique Tractor and Engine Show. There is something for everyone to do at the 20th annual Antique Tractor...Read more

Antique tractor enthusiast at the Tippecanoe County Fair, July 20th

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – The Antique Tractor Parade was one of the big events Monday night at the Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds. Tractor enthusiast Jack Chase participated in the tractor parade. He said he loves that the parade features ...Read more

Credit River Antique Tractor Club shows restored farm machinery
Minneapolis Star Tribune, July 14th

Credit River Antique Tractor Club shows restored farm machinery. Restored farm machinery is on display at the Credit River Antique Tractor Club show. By Janice Bitters Special to the Star Tribune. July 14, 2015 — 6:06pm. itemprop. Three Rivers Park ...Read more

Threshermen Antique Tractor and Steam Engine Show Rained Out, July 13th

For the first time in 53 years, the Will County Threshermen's Antique Tractor and Steam Engine Show, originally scheduled for July 16-19, has been rained out. The 3rd Annual Vintage Tractor parade Saturday will continue from a new location. Since 1962 ...Read more