Caterpillar Machinery Makes Tracks

75th Anniversary Caterpillar Machinery Show draws rare machines and rave reviews

| November 2000

  • 1916 Holt 45
    This 1916 Holt 45 was used until 1940. The 45 hp engine features a 6" bore and 7" stroke and runs at 600 rpm. The "45" sold for $2,750 new. It is owned by Philip and Leonard Johnson, Peoria, Ill.
  • One of the first terracers made by Caterpillar
    Manufactured in the late 1920s, this is one of the first terracers made by Caterpillar.
  • 1931 Model 10 high-clearance Cat
    This 1931 Model 10 high-clearance Cat is one of just 500 built. It is pulling an equally rare piece: a Caterpillar sickle mower, one of 175 built.
  • 1917 Holt 75
    Peter Holt, a descendant of Benjamin Holt (founder of Holt Mfg. Co.), owns this 1917 Holt 75.
  • Holt Model 36 combine harvester was manufactured by Western Harvester Co.
    This Holt Model 36 combine harvester was manufactured by Western Harvester Co. in California in 1927. Sold to a Saskatchewan farmer, it was last operated in 1978. The combine has a 20-foot cutting swath.
  • 1929 Cat 15, complete with side curtains
    Dick Opdahl, Alden, Minn., with his 1929 Cat 15, complete with side curtains.
  • Caterpillar elevating grader
    This Caterpillar elevating grader was among the pieces of vintage equipment in action at the Caterpillar Power from the Past Show.
  • 1946 Cat
    This 1946 Cat was built at the factory from used parts. It was operated almost every day at the factory for the next 50 years.
  • A restored electric Junior D4.
    A restored electric Junior D4.
  • An unrestored Junior D4
    An unrestored Junior D4, priced at more than $2,000.

  • 1916 Holt 45
  • One of the first terracers made by Caterpillar
  • 1931 Model 10 high-clearance Cat
  • 1917 Holt 75
  • Holt Model 36 combine harvester was manufactured by Western Harvester Co.
  • 1929 Cat 15, complete with side curtains
  • Caterpillar elevating grader
  • 1946 Cat
  • A restored electric Junior D4.
  • An unrestored Junior D4

What's big, and yellow, and seen all over? If you were anywhere near Chillicothe, Ill., Aug. 25-27, you'd know the answer to that question: Caterpillar machinery. 

But Caterpillar aficionados know that Caterpillar equipment wasn't always yellow. At first, the standard color was gray, usually trimmed with red, or sometimes black. The change to yellow came officially Dec. 7, 1931, but even today, Caterpillar Inc. will paint its equipment any color, if the customer is willing to pay an additional fee.

The Old Fashioned Threshing Show and Caterpillar Power from the Past shows were combined to assemble the largest collection of antique Caterpillar machinery ever gathered in the Peoria area. Peoria, of course, is the international headquarters of Caterpillar Inc. Sponsors of the event included the Antique Caterpillar Machinery Owners Club (ACMOC) and the River Valley Antique Association.

Ted Holton, president of ACMOC, said the organization was founded in 1991 to foster the exchange of information and ideas about the restoration of antique Caterpillar equipment, and to preserve Caterpillar history. Today, the club has more than 2,000 members.



"One does not have to be an owner of old machinery to be a member," he said. "Some members collect literature. The club wanted to have its general meeting in the Peoria area this year because it is the 75th anniversary of the merger of Best and Holt tractor companies and the formation of Caterpillar Tractor Company."

In 1926, Holt Manufacturing Company and C.L. Best Tractor Company merged to form Caterpillar Tractor Company. Benjamin Holt, founder of Holt Manufacturing Co., had invented a tractor with self-laying tracks in 1904. He called it the "Caterpillar" and that was the name chosen for the company created by the merger.



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