Today In History: The World’s First Tractor Company In Iowa
Before gas-powered engines were a staple on tractors, there were steam engine machines. But in 1892, in a small northeast Iowa village, the first gasoline-powered tractor was born.
John Froelich invented the gasoline-powered tractor out of frustration with the problems of the steam engine. They were heavy, bulky, and hard to maneuver.
A year later, John Froelich led a group of businessmen and formed the Waterloo Gasoline Tractor Company on January 10th, 1893.
The business wasn’t very successful. The company built four tractors. Only two of these ever sold and they were both returned by unsatisfied customers.
In 1895 the Waterloo Gasoline Tractor Company was sold to John Miller who stopped tractor production to focus on gasoline engines. In 1911, after much research and development, the Waterloo Gasoline Tractor Company started to make tractors again.
This time, it came with success.
In 1913, the “successful formula” was achieved with the Waterloo Boy tractor. The next year the Model R Waterloo Boy came out and sold more than eight thousand units during its decade in production.
Then John Deere steps into the picture.
During World War I, farm prices rose and so did the demand for dependable machine power. This caused the idea of tractors to become more popular and more manufacturers started entering the market.
Deere and Company in Moline, Illinois had been watching the progress of the Waterloo Engine Company. It was looking to round out its implements line with a good tractor.
So, in 1918, the company bought the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company for $2.1 million and changed the name to John Deere and Company.
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