What’s in a Name?

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Above: This Elgin tractor 9-18 model was eventually re-rated a 10-20.
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Left: This photo shows the participants in the first annual Rock Island sales force school of instruction in 1920. Though the school was held in Minneapolis, the tractor was manufactured in, and named for, Rock Island, Ill.Above: This Minneapolis-Moline Z was run during the Albany (Minn.) Pioneer Days. This tractor is named after a pair of cities: Minneapolis and Moline, Ill.
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Above: This 1919 Fairmont tractor was named for the city of its manufacture, Fairmont, Minn.
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Above: The Peoria tractor, manufactured in Peoria, Ill., at a tractor contest in about 1918.
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Right: The Sandusky 15-35 Model E tractor was manufactured in Sandusky, Ohio.
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Above: This huge Minneapolis 35-70, owned by John and Lorraine Klaseus of LeSueur, Minn., was in the daily parade at the 2005 LeSueur County Pioneer Power show.
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Right: The Port Huron tractor followed the successful Port Huron steam engines. All were produced in Port Huron, Mich., by Port Huron Engine & Thresher Co.
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Above: This Rock Island tractor appears to have seen better days.
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Left: The Wichita tractor was manufactured in Wichita Falls, Texas.
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Left: The Sandusky 10-20 was the first tractor made by Dauch Manufacturing Co. of Sandusky, Ohio.
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Left: A rear view of the Shelby 15-30 tractor, manufactured in Shelby, Ohio, from 1919-1922 by Shelby Truck & Tractor Co.
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Above: This Model R Waterloo Boy, from about 1917, was displayed at the 2005 Albany (Minn.) Pioneer Days.

Some tractors named after the cities where they
were manufactured are well-known: Minneapolis, Minneapolis-Moline
(Minneapolis and Moline, Ill.), Waterloo Boy (Waterloo, Iowa),
Buffalo-Pitts (Buffalo, N.Y.) and Cleveland. However, other
lesser-known tractors were the pride and joy of their hometowns,
and several even carried those cities’ names.

The Elgin

Elgin, Ill., was the home of the 10-20 Elgin tractor in 1916,
but the company moved to Piqua, Ohio, where it lasted until 1920.
The 10-20 was a re-rated 9-18 and later was called a 12-25. The
1918 asking price was $1,250. Fifty Elgins were manufactured in
1916 and 1917, and an estimated 90 in 1918.

The Fairmont

The 1914 introduction of the Fairmont tractor by Fairmont
(Minn.) Gas Engine & Railway Car Co. was a surprise, as the
company had long made only railway motor cars and engines. Later
called the “Mighty Fairmont,” Her Mightiness disappeared entirely
in 1916. Early Fairmonts were 15-22s, later ones, 16-26s.

The Peoria

Three-wheeled tractors were popular prior to 1920, so the Peoria
(Ill.) Tractor Co. introduced an 8-20 3-wheeler in 1914. Two years
later it was re-rated a 10-20, with the same Beaver 4-cylinder
engine of 3-3/4-by-5-inch bore and stroke, for $685.

The Peoria tractor is interesting in large part because C.F.
Loomis helped design it. Loomis designed the Big Four and Pioneer
tractors, but each of the three is different from the other,
unusual for the time. The Peoria is also noteworthy because five
different models (8-20, 10-20, 12-25, Model J 12-25 and Model L
12-25) of the little-known tractor were produced during the line’s
existence from 1913 to 1921.

The New Britain

Though the tractor-cultivator manufactured in New Britain,
Conn., is not very well known, a restored No. 1 will bring $4,000
today for a machine that originally cost $400 (the No. 2 cost
$450). Both were water-cooled, 2-cylinder machines with
2-3/4-by-4-inch bore and stroke.

The Pontiac

Pontiac, Mich., was the home of Pontiac Tractor Co., which
manufactured the Pontiac 15-30 in 1918. The engine was a
single-cylinder of huge 9-by-12-inch bore and stroke. Nothing else
is known.

Beaver 4-cylinder engines with 3-3/4-by-5-inch bore and stroke
were used initially, followed by Climax fours of 5-by-6-1/2-inch
bore and stroke. Early models sold for $650, and later, $1,585. The
higher price probably indicated a company in trouble, as the more
expensive models differed little from earlier models. Only 20
Peorias were made in 1918, although the company estimated it would
make 1,000 in 1919, which did not happen.

The Port Huron

This Michigan-based tractor was manufactured by Port Huron
Engine & Thresher Co., which had a long history as a
manufacturer of grain threshers and steam traction engines. Only
one Port Huron Farm Tractor was made in 1917, but 30 were
manufactured in 1918. The Port Huron 12-25 tractor used a
4-cylinder Chief engine with 4-3/4-by-6-inch bore and stroke, and
sold for $1,700.

The Quincy

The Quincy tractor was built by two unrelated companies, in two
different cities, at the same time.

Electric Wheel Co., Quincy, Ill., built the Quincy Model O in
1911. The 20-30 was soon re-rated a 15-30. The machine had a
standard 4-cylinder engine, unusual at the time, as well as
autoguide steering, tubular radiator and three-speed transmission,
all of which were innovative in that era – perhaps too innovative:
the Quincy, Ill., tractor lasted but a year.

Quincy Engine Co. of Quincy, Pa., introduced its Quincy 10-20
tractor in 1912. These Quincys were old-stylelooking tractors, with
large flywheels and a single-cylinder engine. This Quincy tractor,
which weighed 10,000 pounds and sold for $1,200, was in production
until 1916.

The Rock Island

Rock Island Heider tractors were the original output of Rock
Island Plow Co. of Rock Island, Ill., but in 1927 the company began
producing Rock Island Model F 18-35 tractors. The Model G-2 15-25
came out in 1929. Rock Island tractors were made until 1937.

The Sandusky

In 1913, Dauch Manufacturing Co. of Sandusky, Ohio, began
building the Sandusky 15-35 tractor. As P.S. Rose wrote in
Report on Tractor Companies, “Frank Kennedy, who designed
the first Russell tractor, worked with Mr. Dauch on the present
tractor. He and Mr. Dauch worked for 10 years on this machine.” A
Model E 15-35 was also produced, and sold in 1916 for the high
price of $2,500.

The Model J 10-20 came out in 1917, using a 4-cylinder Dauch
engine with a 4-1/4-by-5-inch bore and stroke, and weighing 4,900

The number of Sandusky tractors sold may surprise some readers:
241 in 1916, 647 in 1917 and 355 in the first half of 1918. The
company’s projection for the second half of 1918 was 900 tractors.
Sanduskys were no longer made by 1921.

The Shelby

Shelby Truck & Tractor Co., located in Shelby, Ohio, made a
9-18 and 15-30 Shelby tractor from 1919-1921.

The Wichita

Like the Quincy, two Wichita tractors were built in different
places with the same name at about the same time. Wichita Tractor
Co. of Wichita, Kan., brought out its version of an 8-16 Wichita in
1917. It sold for $1,085 in 1920, its last year of production.
Three years later, Wichita Falls Motor Co. of Wichita Falls, Texas,
came out with its Wichita, a 20-30, in 1920, selling for $2,500. It
lasted only that year.

The Stockton

Two Stockton tractor models were manufactured in 1920 by
Stockton Tractor Co. of Stockton, Calif.: a Model A 8-16 and Model
B Sure Grip, both using a 4-cylinder Herschell-Spillman engine with
3-1/2-by-5-inch bore and stroke.

Naming blues

Other obscure tractors were undoubtedly named for the cities
where they were manufactured – there’s the Antigo tractor of
Antigo, Wis., for instance – but one thing is certain: Naming a
tractor for a city was no guarantee of commercial success. In the
end, most buyers focused more on substance than sizzle.

Bill Vossler is a freelance writer and author of several
books on antique farm tractors and toys. Contact him at Box 372,
400 Caroline Lane, Rockville, MN 56569; (320) 253-5414; e-mail:

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