ASME-Landmark:Holt Caterpillar Tractor


Named after Benjamin Holt (1849-1920), the Holt Manufacturing Company of Stockton pioneered the first continuous track gasoline-powered haulers, or caterpillar tractors, influencing designs worldwide.

The first practical demonstration of this tractor took place in a peat field on Roberts Island on November 24, 1904, and was patented and in production by December of 1907. Its gasoline engine, in contrast to the steam engine in use at the time, considerably reduced the overall size and weight of the tractor, produced more power per pound of weight, and reduced the tractor's cost. It also required fewer men to operate it; competing steam engines typically required a crew of seven, including one highly skilled, well-paid, and licensed farm engineer, in addition to large amounts of water and fuel, either coal or wood.

Initially, Holt's products focused on agricultural machinery; between 1908 and 1913, twenty-seven of the first 100 Holt caterpillar tractors were used on the Los Angeles Aqueduct project. During World War I, almost all of Holt's production capacity was dedicated to military needs. The caterpillar tractors were famously used by the British, French, and American armies in place of horses for hauling heavy artillery and towing supply trains. By 1916, more than 1000 were in use by the British; by the end of the war, around 10,000 had been used. Holt tractors also played a part, to varying degrees, in the development of military tanks in Great Britain, France, and Germany.

These gasoline-powered track-type tractors helped revolutionize agriculture, logging, construction, road building, and transportation around the world. See ASME website for more information