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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This Nebraska man has restored 27 John Deere antique tractorsOmaha World-Herald, January 31st
Sometimes Duaine Filsinger lucks into antique John Deere tractors to restore through a friend. That has been the case several times. One of these acquisitions is a John Deere 620 gas orchard tractor that Filsinger displayed at last weekend's Tractors...Read more
Antique tractor enthusiasts urged to attend Feb. 11 meetingThe Banner-Graphic, January 30th
In an effort to initiate an Antique Tractor Club in Putnam County, an organizational meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11 in the Putnam County Farm Bureau boardroom. There are a variety of events for which antique tractors would be a nice ...Read more
Antique Tractor and Toy Show draws crowdGreat Falls Tribune, January 24th
There was something for everyone who attended the 30th annual Antique Tractor and Toy Show on Friday and Saturday at the Montana ExpoPark Trades and Industries Building. The two-day show offered everything from model trains, cars and airplanes to ...Read more
Expo Center to host annual antique tractor showMurray State News, January 23rd
For many people, one of the pleasures of growing up in the south was the experience of going to an antique tractor show. The shiny, colorful tractors are always a treat to the eye and a reminder of our agricultural heritage in the area. The William...Read more
LaPorte County man, 78, dies fixing antique tractornwitimes.com, January 21st
HANNA | A LaPorte County man who was fixing his antique farm tractor died after he was run over by the tractor, dragged behind it and then suffocated by mud churned up by its wheels after it became wedged against a tree, police said. Kenneth Bailey, 78 ...Read more
Thieves stoop to stealing restored Allis Chalmers antique tractorFarm Futures, January 20th
Con men steal things, but to steal an antique tractor and use the tractor owner's trailer to do it, in the heart of a business and residential area, is brazen indeed. Perhaps you can help. Here's a description of the stolen tractor and trailer. Tractor...Read more
Antique tractors delight nostalgic visitors at Pennsylvania Farm ShowReading Eagle, January 14th
Gloria Weaver of York Haven rhapsodized over the 1953 Farmall Super-A tractor on display Wednesday at the 2015 Pennsylvania Farm Show. The antique tractor owned by Harold Sunday of Hamburg is just like the one her landlord drove on the farm where ...Read more
Antique tractor show evokes nostalgiaBowling Green Daily News, January 10th
Lex is a tractor man, more specifically, old, red tractors. He spent Saturday in the arms of his grandfather, Sam Chandler of Woodburn, checking out the more than 80 antique tractors and engines at the Winter Antique Tractor Show held by the Warren...Read more