A brief history of tractors
– By Pioneer Auto Museum
Farm tractors run so much of our lives and aid in more things than the average American may realize. Its history is unique and thrilling. Here is just a snippet of the vast history of tractors.
Tractors first emerged in the early 19th century when steam engines on wheels were used to help drive mechanical farm machinery using a flexible belt. The first portable steam engine used for agricultural purposes was invented by Richard Trevithick in 1812 and it was known as the Barn Engine. The Barn Engine was mainly used to drive a corn threshing machine. Advances continued and improvements to engines began to develop as the history of tractors continued. By 1903, Charles W. Hart and Charles H. Parr had successfully built the first American tractor using a two-cylinder gasoline engine. Their firm went on to build 15 farm tractors. Their 14,000-pound tractor is now on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. as the oldest surviving internal combustion engine tractor in the United States.
Between 1916-1922, more than 100 companies were producing farm tractors for farm uses. John Deere had previously created the first steel plow in 1837, and by 1927 they produced the first combine. By 1928, the first General Purpose Tractor was introduced, which allowed for planting and cultivating three rows at a time, increasing productivity. Until the late 1930s, farm tractors had steel wheels, making farmers very cautious about whether rubber wheels would be able to do as much work as those with steel wheels. However, by 1939, the Model “B” tractor was introduced with an electric starter and lights, rubber tires, and higher horse-power. The Model “R” tractor was the first John Deere tractor that had more than 40 horsepower, as well as the first diesel tractor.
The evolution of tractors continued and by 1966, John Deere became the first manufacturer to offer farmers a tractor that had a roll bar to help protect the operator. By the early 1970s, farm tractors started to feature more comfortable seating for the operator and a sound guard protecting the tractor cab, helping to shield them from heat, cold, and dust. As technology advances, farming has become more and more mechanized. From feeding animals to tilling the land, there is a farm tractor for every need. This technology helps farmers to be more efficient, effective, and accurate in how they plant and produce.
Stop by Pioneer Auto Show to see our wide selection of vintage tractors that we have on display.