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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Reinventing the Wheel: 1918

Reinventing the Wheel: 1918

Oakland, 1918. "Crating Fageol 'walking tractors' at factory." Our first look at an unusual agricultural implement. 8x10 glass negative. View full size.

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Long ago and far away

Many of Shorpy's photos typically cause me to reflect that nothing in these exposures remain. The buildings, and likely the tractors, are long gone.

Yes, the picturesque rolling hills behind the factory still exist, but I'm pretty sure they were long ago buried under homes, stores, and roadways.

Competitor to Caterpillar

Dave is right (of course) - Soil in the Sacramento Delta region was/is largely peat bog and similar swampy soil that literally sucked up any equipment with standard tires. It is where the idea for tracked harvesters and tillers came from and later became well known because of incorporation into the military. There were several competitive ideas that tried to enter the market - but obviously - Cat won.


It looks as if they were steered by tiller, like some very early automobiles. As someone who spent a good deal of my childhood on a tractor, I can't imagine steering something like that with a tiller in any sort of tough ground.

Soft soil

Holt and Best Tractor Companies started in the same area about the same time. They had much more success with their tracked tractors than Faegol ever did with the walking wheel. They merged and became Caterpillar.

Faegol did survive though, after a fashion. They concentrated on trucks and eventually became part of Peterbilt.

A Great Idea

I can see these spiked metal tires working well in a rocky environment or over hard ground, but in a muddy field all that weight would sink like a stone. Rubber tires displace more area and would be less likely to become stuck in boggy ground. Small wonder this idea never really caught on for agricultural machines.

[Actually these were made for California's soft soil. - Dave]

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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