History of Tractors - Living History Farms

History of Tractors

cropslivestockpowerpeopleteacher resourcesnative american farm power1850 pioneer farm power1900 farm powerfarm power todayTractor History


History of Tractors



John Deereplow1837: John Deere created the first steel plow. This plow would cut through the tough root system of prairie grass. It became popular with farmers in the Midwest.

Photos courtesy of the John Deere Archives.



horse-drawn planterhorse-drawn planter1853: A two row horse-drawn corn planter was developed. The planter would drop the seed into the ground at the right time.


1868: The first engine-powered farm tractors used steam.


1878: The Internal Combustion Engine made its appearance - this is the engine used in cars today. These gasoline engines started replacing stationary steam engines.

1888: Steam tractors appeared on American farms.


Froelich tractorJohn Froelich​1892: John Froelich built and sold the first two successful gasoline tractors. Froelich was living in northeast Iowa when he created and sold these tractors.

Photo courtesy of the John Deere Archives.


1903: Hart Parr Gasoline Engine Company of Charles City, Iowa coined the term “Tractor”.



1916-1922: During this time period more than 100 companies made tractors.

Waterloo TractorWaterloo tractor1918: John Deere bought out the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company.

Photos courtesy of the John Deere Archives.


combinecombine1927: John Deere produced a combine.

Photos courtesy of the John Deere Archives.


General Purpose tractorGeneral purpose tractor1928: The General Purpose Tractor was made. It had a two-plow that planted and cultivated three rows at a time.

Photos courtesy of the John Deere Archives.



tractor with steel wheelstractor with rubber tires​It took some time for farmers to believe that tractors with rubber tires would do as much work as tractors with steel wheels.

  • 1939: Model “B” tractor had electric starter and lights, rubber tires, and higher horse-power. This type of tractor sold more than any other tractor before.
  • 1949: Model “R” was the first John Deere tractor with more than 40 horsepower. It was also the first diesel tractor.


4020 Tractor4020 Tractor​1964: The 4020 tractor now delivered up to 94 horsepower; it was one of John Deere’s best-selling tractors.

Photos courtesy of the John Deere Archives.


rollguardrollguard1966: John Deere was the first manufacturer to offer a roll bar to protect the operator. Safety has always been an interest in tractor companies.

Photos courtesy of the John Deere Archives.



Sound-GardSound-Gard cab1973: The Sound-Gard body offered a new level of comfort and convenience to the driver. It had a panoramic view and shielded the operator from dust, heat, and cold. It reduced the noise level and the driver could use a radio.

Photos courtesy of the John Deere Archives.



feeding livestock1992: Feeding livestock became mechanized. Many different machines were made to process feed easier. The use of fence line concrete feed bunks helped the feeding of livestock.


John Deere combineJohn Deere combineThe use of technology in the field helps farmers plant more accurately and produce more crops.

Photos courtesy of the John Deere Archives.


John Deere factories are producing tractors and machinery all over the world as well as expanding in the United States (Ex: China, Brazil, India, Russia, and throughout Europe)


Next up: People - 1850 Pioneer Farm


Learning Fields Home



Copyright © 2017 Living History Farms • All Rights Reserved