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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Antique tractor show in StoystownDaily American Online, July 31st
Larry Barnhart and Ed Lease of Stoystown discuss how the Antique Tractor Festival has changed during the years. Stoystown Lions Club member Barnhart said he remembers the first tractor show 14 years ago. The club sponsors the show. “For the first show, ...Read more
New England John Deere Tractor Expo features antique tractors, family fun, in ...Cabinet.com, July 31st
Northeast Two-Cylinder Tractor Club and the Hillsborough 4-H Club. Antique John Deere farm tractors are showcased to herald the machinery whose earliest ancestor was a polished-steel plow designed in 1837 by John Deere, an inventor and blacksmith...Read more
0730 wcc Antique Tractor1.jpgWallowa County Cheiftain, July 30th
0730 wcc Antique Tractor1.jpg. Buy this photo. Elane Dickenson/Chieftain | Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 3:48 pm. Erl McLaughlin stands inside the shed he built for his extensive antique farm implement collection. His annual Sunrise Iron Antique...Read more
Tilling the past at antique tractor showSeacoastonline.com, July 26th
Alan Harris sits with his grandson, Jaylan Harris, 5, of Lebanon, on one of his tractors after participating in the parade at the 19th Eliot Tractor and Engine Show on Saturday. Harris has five tractors from the 1940s that he plans to pass on to his...Read more
Tilling up the past at antique tractor showSeacoastonline.com, July 26th
The grounds were full of antique farming machines as well and classic tractors. Vendors on lanes named for engines offered tractor parts, small gasoline engines, tools, glass insulators, repair manuals and more. Others displayed their collections of...Read more
Antique tractor show displays pieces of historyWCYB, July 25th
Ron Stevenson, a member of the Old Glade Antique Tractor Association says "It's been pushed over in the fence row or left in the barn or whatever and scrap prices are so good now people are hauling it off and it's being crushed and when you crush it...Read more
Antique tractors chugging toward Stoystown festThe Tribune-Democrat, July 22nd
This year's festival will feature select tractors by the Friends of Massey that cover a wide range of equipment including Massey-Harris and Massey Ferguson tractors. Other makes and models of antique tractors and associated farm equipment also will be...Read more
Antique John Deere tractors will be popping at Riverbend Tractor and Steam ...Mlive Kalamazoo, July 14th
The event, in which John Deere tractors will be the featured brand, starts Thursday, July 17, and runs through Saturday, July 19. The 3-day event will include a garden tractor pull, model airplane show, an antique tractor pull and two tractor parades...Read more