A Steam Engine with Crawler Tracks

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

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment