The Caterpillar Tractor
The first practical crawler-type tread tractor in the world was patented and manufactured in Stockton and called the Caterpillar. Key years, 1904-1931
Nineteenth century tractors were notoriously heavy contraptions which did not perform well in certain soils—notably, that of the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta. To remedy this problem, Benjamin Holt of Stockton sought to develop a wider, lighter tractor. Success evaded him until he hit on the idea to mount the tractor’s wheels inside a treadmill; Holt’s photographer, Charles Clements, noticed that this machine moved much like a caterpillar, and Holt exclaimed: “Caterpillar it is. That’s the name for it!”
Since that time, Caterpillar has broadened its product lines considerably. It is now the world leader in manufacturing construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives.
First practical field trial of a track-type tractor (later known as the Caterpillar), by the Holt Manufacturing Company, Stockton. Later became the recipient of an American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers Landmark Award.
First commercial production of steam gasoline-powered track-type traction engines (No. 1001, the forerunner to the modern Caterpillar), also by the Holt Manufacturing Company, Stockton. It was this design that also inspired the eventual production of the modern military tank.
Benjamin Holt and C.L. Best of Elmhurst (California) unite to form the Caterpillar Tractor Company. Soon after, it moves to Peoria, Illinois.
First commercial production of diesel-powered Caterpillar tractors, the first application of diesel engines in mass- produced, mobile vehicles (as opposed to stationary or marine engines).