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 and gas engine show begins FridayLouisburg Herald, May 27th
More than 100 tractors will pull into Louisburg this weekend for the third annual Glory Days of Iron Show. The event, put on by the Miami County Antique Tractor & Gas Engine Association, will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Lewis-Young Park...Read more
Engines, tractors at Antique Power Show in Oriskany FallsThe Rome Observer, May 26th
ORISKANY FALLS – The Mohawk Valley Power of the Past is holding its 31st anniversary Antique Power Show June 5-7 at the Fireman's Field, Route 12B, Oriskany Falls. There will be antique engines and tractors, antique cars and trucks on display and in ...Read more
4th Annual Antique Tractor and Machinery Show coming to Pike FairgroundsPike County News Watchman, May 26th
“All things Ford and Ferguson” will be on display during the 4th annual Antique Tractor and Machinery Show, presented by Southern Ohio Farm Power of the Past, Veach Trucking, and the Pike County Agricultural Society. The event will take place June 5-7...Read more
Antique Tractor Power Association Show on SaturdayBartlesville Radio, May 26th
A Trail Drive of antique tractors will make their way up Highway 75 on Thursday, from the Dewey Fairgrounds at 10 A.M. Caney Valley Antique Power Association President Don Clifford said that's when the fun begins. The 22nd Annual Tractor, Flea Market, ...Read more
Antique tractor relay starts Friday in HarrisonLincoln Journal Star, May 26th
Approximately 35 antique tractors will arrive in Harrison this week with their drivers and support teams for the 2015 Tractor Relay Across Nebraska. The relay started in 2012 with two drivers and tractors that go about 50 miles a day, taking in scenic...Read more
Antique tractors on parade at 39th annual Gas Engine Show in Bernardston ...MassLive.com, May 24th
BERNARDSTON — The 39th annual Gas Engine Show and Giant Flea Market drew thousands to Bernardston over Memorial Day weekend, a good number of whom arrived Sunday with antique tractors in tow. While many strolled the flea market looking for ...Read more
United Cancer of Elkhart County Antique Tractor Cruise-In 2015 will be June 13 ...The Elkhart Truth, May 22nd
Fourteen-year-old Alex Ransbottom, right, drives a 1942 Oliver tractor that once belonged to his great great uncle north on C.R. 7 at the first Antique Tractor Cruise-in in Nappanee Saturday, June 14, 2104. The event brought together antique tractor...Read more
Northern Indiana man run over by antique tractor, diesWISH-TV, May 20th
DENVER, Ind. (AP) — Northern Indiana police say a 73-year-old man died when the rear wheel of an antique tractor he was restoring shifted and ran over him. Miami County police say James G. See used his cell phone to call 911 after Tuesday's accident ...Read more