Posts Tagged With: 175th Anniversary

John Deere Waterloo Boy Tractor

Even though tractors have become one of the machines that the company is best known for, John Deere didn’t invent the tractor. The first gasoline-powered tractor was invented/perfected by John Froelich in 1892.

In 1918, John Deere purchased the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company, manufacturer of the Waterloo Boy Tractor. One of these first tractors was on display at the 175th Anniversary event at the World Headquarters. I’m not sure of the age of this specific tractor, but I’m guessing it was one of the originals, as later models were the famous John Deere green and yellow.

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A Green and Yellow Party!

I have survived not  one, but TWO John Deere 175th Anniversary events so far this month, one at the World Headquarters and one at John Deere Des Moines Works in Ankeny, IA.

I was a guest at one and a party planner at the other, so the experiences were a little different. I though coordinating speakers for 200 people at a time was lots of pressure till I got to coordinate the speaking for a show like this…

What do John Deere 175th Anniversary celebrations have in common?

For one thing, lots and lots of people. I heard it estimated that each event had over 10,000 people attend, and the event for Waterloo this summer and Harvester Works this fall are expected to be even bigger.

Both events had some great old machinery on display, too. I loaded galleries without much commentary on Google Plus and Facebook,  and I’ll work on getting updates with the stories behind the pictures.

My favorite tractor from the World Headquarters event was this Waterloo Boy tractor. The steeringwas controlled by a chain, the engine ran on kerosine, and part of the floor looked suspiciously like an old board, but it was definitely a recognizable tractor.

Plus, my easily-sunburnt self appreciates any machine with an umbrella.

The part of me that was always lucky enough to run the newest equipment on photo shoots is just amazed to see how far technology has come since then. Then again, my dad likes to point out that things I take for granted were huge innovations in their day as well.



My favorite tractor on display was a John Deere 6030, which is a little surprising since it was set up right beside a good-looking 4020 tractor and I will always have a soft spot in my heart for one of them.

But look at the wheels on that bad boy! I didn’t get the specs on this particular machine (the downside to working the show) but the Series did get above 200 hp. Some of the tractors built in Waterloo now make that look small, but it had to be an absolute MONSTER when it rolled off the line.

Another great part of the events is that they were open to both current employees and retirees. I got a chance to talk with some of the engineers and welders who built the first machines at the Des Moines Works back in the early 50s.

It’s amazing (ok, and a little intimidating!) to think my stories of working at John Deere might sound like their stories some day….

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On the road again*

 Welcome to the start of The Month During Which Tara Will Travel A Lot.

Des Moines. Moline. Des Moines again. Moline again. Des Moines AGAIN, a quick trip to New York for a wedding, then back to Des Moines. 

June is going to be a busy month for me. It’s also going to be a great month for pictures and posts, because part of my travel is attending celebration events for the 175th Anniversary! I’m headed to the one at the World Headquarters tomorrow and hoping to see some great old equipment. 

I’ll tweet and post pictures till my battery dies (on both phones!) and promise to get a more complete blog post put together as soon as I can.

I’m kind of excited, if you can’t tell!




*Just try not to start singing.  Can’t do it, can you? Me neither….

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175 Years of Memories (including yours!)

 Got a John Deere story you’d like to share? Well, now’s the time to do it.

In honor of the company’s 175th Anniversary, the John Deere team is collecting customer memories and stories on the John Deere Facebook page. There’s also (surprisingly difficult!) John Deere trivia and new 175th Anniversary wallpapers that you can download.

I’ll have lots of 175th pictures and stories to post over the summer, I hope. It’s shaping up to be busy but lots and lots of FUN!

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Working with history

Historic plow with John Deere 175th Anniversary Logo

This will come as no surprise to most of you, but I’m a big fan of history.  I think I can safely blame my love of reading for some of it, and some of it is probably just my natural fascination with little details. Many people hear bits of historic minutia and think “so?”.  I think “How cool!”

 So  I’ve got to admit I’m really enjoying a current project that I’m working on. This year, John Deere celebrates its 175th anniversary.
That means that John Deere had been in business for over 70 years when Henry Ford introduced the Model T. It was in business for almost 40 years when Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone.
The company lasted through the American Civil War, the Great Depression, World Wars I and II.  The list goes on and on. Heck, the company has been publishing The Furrow, a farming magazine, for over 100 years.

John Deere Blacksmith

One interesting thing that I’ve discovered since I started working at the company is that there is still ablacksmith on staff. He works at the Historic Site in Grand Detour, Illinois* and demonstrates the same kind of manual ironworking that Deere himself would have used to make his famous plow. I haven’t had a chance to see the blacksmith in action, but I hope to get a chance this summer. Coworkers have told me that history gets even more interesting when you add in some flying sparks and clanging hammers.
Like history isn’t interesting enough as it is…
*The company didn’t move to Moline, Illinois till 1848, where the world headquarters still remains today. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know that– I didn’t until one of the Heritage Marketing guys told me last year, and I still needed to look up the date.  
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