A Steam Engine with Crawler Tracks


| May 2005



On July 26, 1858 Charles F. Mason of Troy, N.Y. made the first public demonstration of a Crawler Tractor in the United States.

This pioneer machine was referred to in U.S. Patent #26195 as a "Steam Traction Locomotive carrying its own Railway."

A committee of judges representing the New York State Agricultural Society examined the machine and observed its operations in connection with an offer of a premium for "any engine that shall substitute steam power for horses in plowing, in a satisfactory manner."

The Country Gentleman (Albany) of August 12, 1858 reported: "The first engine constructed on a new plan was really a success - the power of draught evinced; the facility with which the engine was steered; the fact that it could surmount the obstacles of rough ground, of soft wet spots, and of considerable elevations - and all without sufficient jolting to displease or impede the working of its machinery - surprised the bet mechanical judges who were present. The whole is said to weigh 8000 lbs. and to be able to carry fuel and water for five hours work."

The huge Diesel-powered earth moving tractors now in general use are a far cry from the first steam-powered Crawler Engine demonstrated at Troy over a hundreds years ago.

Willard Durkee - August 1960