The First Steam Tractor?

The true first steam tractor is probably lost to time, but there are multiple claimants. Here is one putting the vehicle's inaugural drive at 1860.


| September 2001



first steam tractor

By description the purported first steam tractor was a three-wheeled behemoth like this. No actual photo or other image of the vehicle survives.

Illustration: Farm Collector Magazine Staff

David Otto of Middleville, Michigan sent us this tribute to Henry G. Stone clipped from the Grand Rapids Herald, Sunday edition, November 28, 1926. He says: "I am sending a copy of an article that was given to me by Mrs. Florence Manning from Owosso, Michigan, whose late husband was a grandson of Mr. Henry Stone.

"The Grand Rapids Herald newspaper stopped publication in the 1950s, so I don't think there should be any problem reprinting it.

"I enjoy Iron-Men Album very much and have some dated back to 1954."

Here is the article, which was titled 'First Steam Tractor.'"

First Steam Tractor

'To a Grand Rapids man, the late Henry G. Stone, belongs credit, it is believed, for the successful construction of the first steam tractor, or road engine, built in the United States. Mr. Stone's iron monster, built in 1860, proved impractical for several reasons, but it ran, as at least four present Grand Rapids residents can testify.

''In recognition of the various services to Grand Rapids by Mr. Stone, who was one of the city's earliest settlers, L. J. DeLamarter, vice president and manager of the Grand Rapids Railway Company, has announced that one of the new rail coaches will bear his name.