Marschke Gas Motor Plow

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The Marschke Gas Motor Plow was supposedly capable of climbing a steep grade while pulling four 14-inch plows at a depth of 8 inches, traveling 4 mph. The motor plow was said to be capable of successful work in stony rolling ground as well as soft slough land.
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Here, the Marschke Gas Motor Plow is equipped with four 14-inch plows. The photo was taken just after successfully plowing 40 acres of stubble land in Cass County, N.D.
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Lucca, N.D., in the early 1900s.

More than 100 years ago, a pair of brothers from a small town in North Dakota joined forces to produce a very early motor plow. Reinhold B. Marschke and his brother, Fred Marschke, collaborated on a one-of-a-kind motor plow that they named the Marschke.

Reinhold worked as a contractor and builder in Lucca in the southeastern corner of North Dakota. Now absent from the map, Lucca in its prime boasted a population of 80-100 and had a meat market, post office, hotel, pool hall, two general stores, a bank, hardware store, grocery, lumber yard, shoe repair shop, ice cream parlor and even a blacksmith shop owned and operated by the Marschke brothers. Fred Marschke was the blacksmith and Reinhold was the inventor.

Born in 1872, Reinhold Benjamin Marschke invented several items, including the first multiple gas motor plow. He also invented a combination screen door and window as well as a folding stairway that is still on the market today.

First tested on April 25, 1907, the Marschke Gas Motor Plow was a success as far as its inventor was concerned. It was said to be the only motor plow with the drive wheels, motor, plows and steering wheel all on one frame and operated by one person. It ran forward and backward, and was said to “turn with ease.”

A three-wheeled contraption, the traction wheels were in front with the right-hand drive wheel running in the furrow. The left wheel runs in unplowed land, providing adequate traction. With the rear steering wheel running in the furrow as well, steering was said to require little or no attention from the operator.

The Marschkes claimed that with their motor plow, a farmer could hitch a binder behind it, cutting grain and plowing stubble at the same time. In the spring, they said, the farmer could attach a harrow and a drill to accomplish the plowing, harrowing and seeding in one pass.

Ads for the Marschke Gas Motor Plow were seen in farming, machinery and industrial magazines in 1909 but no mention of the plow is found after that. Reinhold Marschke said later that he was working on development of another motor plow, a larger model with a 6-cylinder engine and an automatic lift run off the engine to raise the plows. However, no evidence exists suggesting that the piece was ever manufactured. Reinhold Marschke died in 1945. FC

For more information: Chris Jerue, P.O. Box 307, Cheney, WA 99004; e-mail:

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