Saturday 24th November 1849
Born on this day, John Froelich, US inventor of the first petrol-powered farm tractor, with forward and reverse gears. Froelich’s tractor, completed in 1892, featured a Van Duzen one-cylinder gasoline engine mounted on wooden beams to operate a threshing machine. Froelich manufactured several more tractors of this type during the year, and in September shipped one of his engine-powered tractors to a farm in Langford, South Dakota, where it was employed in agriculture activity for the first time. Froelich established the Waterloo Gasoline Traction Engine Company in Waterloo, Iowa, in 1893, and began to manufacture tractors on a larger scale. In 1918, the Waterloo Traction Engine Company was purchased by the John Deere Plow Company. John Deere, already an established plow company, began to mass-produced gasoline-powered tractors based on Froelich’s designs. During the 1920s and 1930s, tractors rapidly changed the face of agriculture in America, and many traditional farmers were pushed off their land by the encroachment of large agricultural interests who utilized the efficient new farming technology.