Reining in the Power Horse Tractor

The Power Horse tractor was steered with reins and designed to pull horse-drawn equipment

| August 1999

Change comes hard. That's what the inventors of the Power Horse tractor - a tractor steered with reins, and designed to pull horse-drawn equipment - banked on. In the 1920s, tractors were increasingly common on farms throughout the United States. But vast numbers of American farmers remained highly suspicious of the newfangled invention. The Power Horse, at least to its inventors, must have seemed the best way to straddle the past and the future.

Today, of course, the Power Horse tractor is but a quirky footnote in the history of the American farm tractor. But it's a footnote that Paul and Bertha Hadden, Desert Hot Springs, Calif., relish. The Haddens are the proud owners of three Power Horse tractors: one an Eimco, and two Harries. The unique design, Paul says, simply came both too late, and too early.

"It works real well, if you know how to use it," Paul says. "I think it just came along too late. As late as 1918-19, the Samson company had tried something similar. The Eimco Power Horse was made from 1937 to 1942. But by 1937, you could buy a nice John Deere or Farmall, for less."

The tractor's design, though, was ahead of its time.

"It was a good idea," he says. "It's where they got the idea for the Bobcat. If they had put a seat and a scoop on the Power Horse, I don't think they could have made enough of them."

The hybrid tractor made farming easier, but at a definite cost.

Jim Price
8/2/2011 9:39:17 AM

I enjoyed the article and pictures of Paul Hadden and his Eimco Power Horse tractor. I remember seeing four such tractors in my youth. My Grandfather in Wellsville, UT had a Power Horse tractor and to my knowledge is the only tractor he ever had. When he passed away the tractor went to my Brother who still has it. I keep trying to get him to give it to me so I can restore it but so far no luck. I remember that my Grandfather had obtained a second one to use as parts but only one was found after his death at 94 in 1989. I also recall a "Hobby Farm" near Wellesville that had a Power Horse Tractor. There was an article in the Logan Newspaper, The Harold Journal, a number of years ago on the Hobby Farm that featured the Power Horse tractor. There was a Doctor by the name of Wilford Hale that used a Power Horse tractor to pull his boat in and out of the water at his cabin on Bear Lake. Worked great as he could operate it from the dock as the water was pretty shallow untill you got out aways. The last one I remember was in Lava Hot Springs, ID sitting with four or five other old tractors on the Wilson farm up Dempsy Creek.