| September/October 1977

R. 1, Ghent, Minnesota 56239

Your very nice picture of the Austin Trenching Machine on the cover of your November-December 1976 Iron Man Album brings to mind the invention of the first(?) trenching machine.

The ditching machine was first made by Anton I. Hovland, along with the help of his brothers, of Island Lake Township, Lyon County Minn., before or during the year 1907. The application for patent was filed March 25, 1908 and the Patent was granted on March 28, 1909. (Patent#915,963)

A contract was entered into by Mr. Hovland with the St. Paul Ditcher and Carrier Company of Como Ave. and Marion Street St. Paul for the building and selling of these machines. This company also manufactured the Carpenter Wing Carrier used on many threshing machines years ago. This company was succeeded by the St. Paul Machinery Manufacturing Company.

On the lighter outfits, only the traction units had Caterpillar traction while the ditcher proper slid on skids.

The machine was guaranteed to dig a ditch from two to thirteen feet deep and follow the established grade, and lay from four to thirty inch tile on the established grade.