The Interesting History of John Deere Tractors

Posted by Robert Piesz on


There are plenty of brands that manufacture tractors these days, but none boasts a history as glorious as John Deere. This company is a pioneer when it comes to making tractors. Founded way back in 1837, John Deere has always managed to provide some of the most long-lasting tractors in the world. Initially, the company started producing steel mold boards but later moved on to making tractors. But how did everything happen? Let's take a look at the splendid history of this company.

Humble beginnings

John Deere, a blacksmith in Grand Detour, Illinois, came to know that farmers were not able to shed the thick prairie soil because of the poor quality plows. He immediately arranged for some highly polished steel mold board made from broken sawblades to help the farmers. That was how the company started.

The next year, John became a manufacturer of steel plows. He built a factory to make these plows and it was in 1863 when he came up with the idea of launching the Hawkeye Riding Cultivator. It helped the farmers to cultivate their land easily as they now had to ride horses instead of using the plows themselves.

1883 was a notable year in the history of the company as it started making five products: shovel plows, harrows, cultivators, Gilpin sulkies, and walking plows. Among all these, the walking plows became the most popular. But soon after, in 1886, John Deere died. But that didn't stop the company from growing.

Introduction of gasoline tractors

The death of John Deere was a setback to the entire company. But John Froehlich was the ideal apprentice for the job. He was the first to successfully test the gasoline-powered tractor. This was in 1892. Although Charles Deere was the President of the company, it was Froehlich who was running the show.

Charles Deere died in 1907. By then, the company had already become worldwide famous for producing impeccable tractors and harvesting tools. The John Deere Export Department was set up in 1908 to centralize the export of the machines. Frank Silloway, the then manager, ensured that the machines reached to various parts of the world, such as France, Russia, Austria, England, and South America safely.

Fast-forward to 1958, John Deere started producing industrial tractors. The 400 Crawler was the bestseller back then. It was specifically for those who had acres of land and required a heavy-duty tractor for farming.


Modern tractors

With changing technology, John Deere had to make sure that it kept pace with it. In 1960, it came up with four different "New Generation of Power" tractors. This line of tractors had four and six cylinders that offered more horsepower compared to the two-cylinder models. This was a significant turnaround for the company.

Previously, it was widely popular for its two-cylinder tractors. Now, with the four and six-cylinder models, it brought a change in the farming system altogether. Farming became much easier than before. The company began selling these new models like hot cake.

Soon, in 1966, the company also introduced rollover protective structures for their farm tractors. It made their tractors safer. But the real trick to sell these structures was to attach them in the new tractors. The company offered them at the same price as the previous tractors; that means people practically didn't have to pay for the protective structures.


Leaders over the years

John Deere didn't have a shortage of successful leaders in the company. Every time someone died, a deserving successor took over. Here is a list of the eight leaders that ran the company over the years:

    • John Deere
    • Charles Deere
    • William Butterworth
    • Charles Deere Wiman
    • William Hewitt
    • Robert Hanson
    • Hans Becherer
    • Robert W. Lane

With such a marvelous past and the company in able hands, it is easy to understand why John Deere is a pioneer in making the best tractors in the world.

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