Rare 1895 Steam Traction Engine Catalog

This is part three in a series on the 1895 engine catalog for legendary Jacob Price steam traction engines and farm implements.

| March/April 2005

In our January/February 2005 issue, we presented pages 5-9 of the 1895 Jacob Price Field Locomotive catalog graciously supplied by steam enthusiast and regular contributor John Davidson. In this, the third installment of our reprint of the original steam engine catalog, we pick up with page 10 and run through page 13.

This third section of the catalog focuses on plowing with Jacob Price Field Locomotives, with specific discussion given to plowing in different types of terrain.

The catalog challenges any question of steam power's superiority, noting in its fluid prose that "the advantage and economy of steam cultivation is such that it cannot be ignored by those who wish to conduct their farming operations at the greatest profit." Steam, the catalog notes with authority, is the prime mover of agriculture. Noting the tribulations experienced by beasts of burden, the catalog boasts of Price engines that, "When steam is turned on, they move."

Interestingly, in setting forth a thesis of the superiority of steam-powered plowing, the catalog also qualifies the conditions under which a steam traction engine experienced difficulties, noting in particular that, "Miry or muddy ground, if the mud is deep, is greatly against steam plowing."

Even so, for the vast majority of American agriculture, the catalog predicts a steady move to steam-powered plowing, extolling, not surprisingly, the virtues of the Jacob Price field locomotive and the role it was set to play in a new era of mechanized agriculture.

Working to keep expectations in line with reality, the catalog delves into the specific capabilities of Price engines with various plow combinations, noting the trials undertaken that took Price to adopt gangs of independently mounted plows to assure uniform performance in the field. "These plows conform freely to all inequalities of soil," the catalog notes.