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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Vintage tractors, enthusiastic owners meet for fun in the sun at Silver LakeThe Daily News Online, August 30th
Smith and his tractor were among about 100 participating in the annual event. The group gathered beforehand at the Charcoal Corral before setting out at noon. They brought a mix of John Deere and Oliver green, International red, Allis Chalmers orange...Read more
Gallery: Children's delight as tractor fair is a hit for Suffolk Food HallIpswich Star, August 30th
More than 50 vintage and modern tractors were on display at the attraction just outside of Ipswich on Saturday. Visitors poured into the site – with 3,000 cars arriving throughout the day. Morgan Studd, from Suffolk Food Hall, said a lot of credit...Read more
Passing the Torch: Antique Tractors AuctionedTwin Falls Times-News, August 30th
Ledbetter laughed at the memory while he helped Bulcher's six children catalog and line up Louie's collection of antique tractors and engines along with machines from two other families for one of the largest antique equipment auctions in southern Idaho...Read more
Bristol traffic: Long queues on M5 after vintage tractor accident and Gordon ...Bristol Post, August 29th
There is queuing traffic on the M5 with two lanes closed after an accident involving a vintage tractor and lorry. Lanes one and two are closed after a vintage agricultural tractor, which was on the way northwards, fell off the lorry. The incident, just...Read more
Locals gather for antique tractor ride on Lowville farmWatertownDailyTimes.com, August 22nd
LOWVILLE — When Jim Northrup, owner of Winteridge Farm in Lowville, helped organize the antique tractor ride on his farm Saturday morning, he wasn't expecting the dozens of locals who came to participate. “We couldn't be happier with the day and the ...Read more
Antique tractors steam into South Haven for annual September showMLive.com, August 17th
Hundreds of antique engine and tractor collectors are expected to attend the 32nd annual Antique Engine and Tractor Show Thursday, Sept. 10 through Sunday, Sept. 13 at the Michigan Flywheelers Museum in South Haven. (Courtesy, Michigan Flyweelers ...Read more
Antique tractor show this weekendThe Record-Courier, August 10th
Northern Nevada Antique Power Club board member Dave Scheider stands next to an air operated Gardner-Denver bucker used in mining operations Thursday. The bucker will be in action at the Carson Valley Antique Power Show Aug. 15th and 16th...Read more
Antique Tractor Day Showcases CollectorsValley News, August 8th
Denny Hewitt washes his tractors on Saturday, August 1, 2015 at Hewitt Hill Farm in Pomfret in preparation for Antique Tractor Day hosted at Billings Farm in Woodstock, Vt. on Sunday, August 2, 2015. The tractors are a prized possession for Hewitt, who...Read more