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By Dave Mowitz

12/5/2017 Successful Farming

In 1912, John Deere faced a huge challenge. While the company was highly successful producing implements and resided as the number one manufacturer of plows in the world, it lacked a tractor to complete its product lineup.

The pressure from dealers to include a tractor to that equipment line was considerable. The demand for horsepower in the marketplace was strong, and all of Deere’s major competitors offered tractors.

The need for a tractor, dealers felt, was essential for Deere to hold on to its plow business. This was due to the fact that a tractor and plow were typically sold together in those days.

Succumbing to this pressure, the Deere board of directors agreed in March 1912 to develop a tractor.

In the next couple of years, Deere engineer C.H. Melvin toiled to develop a three-wheeled tractor plow. This failed to gain traction. 

In stepped Joseph Dain, a board member who had sold his company, Dain Manufacturing, to Deere in 1910. A member of the board of directors and an innovative tinkerer, Dain convinced the board in 1914 that he had a concept for a tractor that would put the company at the forefront of tractor design.  More……        


Stop by the California Agriculture Museum and you’ll see some of the earliest examples of the tractors mentioned in this article in the Heidrick Collection, such as:  John Deere D-Spoke, 1924, John Deere G.P. 1931, Fordson ½ Track 1923, John Deere D-Solid 1926, Fordson 1919, Waterloo Boy 1922, early wagons, and the John Deere Lindeman 1944 which entered Deere into the crawler market.  The museum is generally open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm (closed most holidays).  Contact the museum for its hours of operation as you plan your itinerary: www.CaliforniaAgMuseum.Org, 530-666-9700, 1958 Hays Lane, Woodland, CA 95776. 

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