Who Made the First Tractor?

made-first-tractor Credit: Getty Images News/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The first tractor, a steam-powered apparatus that was hauled into place for threshing corn, was invented by Richard Trevithick, who also invented the steam locomotive. It could be attached to already-existing wheeled mechanical farm equipment to drive it but had no wheels of its own.

Self-contained steam-powered tractors started to appear in 1868. In 1889, the Illinois-based Charter Gasoline Engine Company, under the guidance of Charles Carter, produced the first gasoline-powered tractors. While these machines ran, they were not robust enough for the demanding work of farming. In 1901, Charles W. Hart and Charles H. Parr produced a tougher engine, and in 1902 they started making the Hart-Parr tractor. Henry Ford started producing lightweight tractors in 1907 on his assembly lines, and only three years later, tractors began to proliferate throughout American agriculture.