In early 1900's, steam engine tractors were the primary use in constructing the American farm industries. The problem with the steam engine tractors was the weight. It often caused the tractor to sink into the rich soft earth. Benjamin Holt, an inventor, designed a technique that would resolve the problem. After realizing that laying planks down was an added time restraint, he thought of wrapping the planks around the wheels. He replaced the wheels on a 40 horsepower (30kW) Holt steamer, No. 77, with a set of wooden tracks bolted to chains. On Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 1904, he successfully tested the updated machine plowing the soggy delta land.
On October 25, 1909, Pliny Holt purchased the factory, and immediately began operations with 12 employees. Holt incorporated it as the Holt Caterpillar Company, although he did not trademark the name Caterpillar until August 2, 1910.
Holt's track-type tractors played a support role in World War I. Even before the U.S. formally entered WWI, Holt had shipped 1,200 tractors to England, France and Russia for agricultural purposes. These governments, however, sent the tractors directly to the battlefront where the military put them to work hauling artillery and supplies. Click here to read more.
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