John Deere. What do you think of when you hear it? Most people think of big green tractors. Have you ever wondered how or where the first tractor came to be? Who was the man behind the beginning, the brand we envision today as John Deere?
In 1892 John Froelich (from a small village in Northeast Iowa), invented the first successful gasoline engine “tractor” that could go both forward and backward to help improve the process of wheat threshing. Froelich was tired of bulky, unsafe steam engines. They caught fire all too easily. He envisioned a much safer way to harvest. The resulting tractor was very successful when used in South Dakota that fall. Froelich sent the tractor to a group of farmers in Waterloo. The Waterloo Gasoline Company was subsequently formed and John Froelich was named president. Around 1918, Deere and Company out of Moline, Illinois wanted to manufacturer John Froelich’s tractor. The two entities merged to begin production.
Take a scenic road trip through the rolling hills of Northeast Iowa, and head to the tiny village of Froelich. See a scale model of the first Froelictractor and the original blueprints of the first tractor in the local general store. While visiting, enjoy taking a step back in time to the 1890’s. Explore a one-room schoolhouse. Visit the blacksmith shop, where ideas became iron. Imagine the hot sweltering heat and unpleasant smell of the coal burning throughout Froelich's buildings. Imagine the pounding of the metal being pummelled and shaped to form the tractor. Enjoy a tour of Tractor Town U.S.A.
(Author: Gianna Manternach)