Content Tools

When J. J. Newberry of Roebling, New Jersey, recently inquired about the Worthington tractor he owned, we were unable to turn up much in our files. We had printed one previous story on a Worthington, written by Peter Noyes in our October 1989 issue.

As is often the case, our further research turned up yet another remarkable individual at the center of the development of an American tractor. Charles Campbell Worthington was the internationally known industrialist and sportsman who developed the Worthington tractor. Thanks to the Monroe County Historical Society in Stroudsburg, Pa., we were able to find photographs of the tractors and learn quite a bit about C. C. Worthington.

C. C. Worthington was born in Brooklyn, New York, in January 1854, son of Henry R. and Sara Newton Worthington. In 1840, his father had invented the first direct-acting steam pump, the success of which led to the creation of the well known Worthington Pump and Machinery Corporation.

After his 1879 marriage to Julia Apgar Hedden, C. C. Worthington lived in New York City and Irvington-on-the Hudson, and the couple had five children. A graduate of the School of Mines at Columbia University, Worthington entered the pump business, and took over the Worthington Company upon his father's death in 1880. During his tenure there, he contributed hundreds of important improvements and developments in pumps, compressors and other machines.

The business thrived, plants were opened in many European cities, and many honors were bestowed at Expositions. Perhaps his greatest achievement was during the Egyptian Sudan insurrection, when the British Army faced certain defeat unless water could be carried to them across 200 miles of desert. Worthington's successful engineering of this problem resulted in knighthood.

In addition, he administered the affairs of the Holley Steam Pump Company of Buffalo, New York, which he owned and controlled. He was a director of banks and corporations and a patron of the Metropolitan Opera and Philharmonic Societies.

In 1899, C. C. Worthington sold his interests in Worthington Pump to six of the leading pump companies in the U.S., which were incorporated under the name of International Steam Pump Company. Worthington was its president until his 'retirement' in 1900 at age 46.

The automobile age was now dawning, and Worthington was interested. He designed and built several steam automobiles which were promising, but the gasoline engine interested him enough to organize the Worthington Automobile Company. Several kinds of domestic and foreign pleasure cars were built and introduced by the firm.

In the early 1900s, he took up summer residence at Shawnee-on-Delaware, where created Buckwood Park. A great sportsman, Worthington was both an accomplished rifleman and fisherman. He brought deer to his 5,000 acre estate and many other wild life were protected there, as well. In order to meet his desire for others to share in his appreciation of the property, he designed and built Buckwood Inn, a summer resort. Surrounding the Inn he created the Shawnee Country Club with its famous golf course. In 1906, he married Maude Clement Rice and the couple had two daughters.

Worthington was an avid golfer, having played in Scotland when the old feather ball was used. He had built a six-hole course on his estate at Irvington-on-Hudson, and helped in the creation of other golf clubs as well, in Mt. Hope and Ardsley, New York.

One of the offshoots of Worthington's golf hobby was that the formation of the PGA (Professional Golfers Association) was brought about through his efforts. In 1912 he asked a group of professionals to be his guests at Buckwood Inn and the results produced the organization.

Maintenance was a matter always uppermost in Worthington's mind. At first, he brought a Scotsman with his dogs and sheep herd to do the job, but they ultimately proved inadequate. This led Worthington to invent the first commercially successful gang lawnmower. He founded the Shawnee Mower Co., which later became Worthington Mower Co.

Worthington's first gang mower had three moving wheels and was pulled by a horse. The horse wore leather boots to keep its hooves from marring the fairway. In 1919, Worthington designed a tractor to pull the mower. Worthington mowers then became the standard for golf course maintenance. In 1938, Worthington's grandson Ross Sawtelle adapted the mower for use in military airfield maintenance, and the mowers were produced all during World War II. So great was the company's excellence of production, they were awarded the Army-Navy 'E' and 'Star' awards.

Worthington died at his Washington, D.C. home in October of 1944. The company, which had been located at 140 North Second Street in Stroudsburg, Pa., was apparently sold to Jacobsen Manufacturing in 1945, and continued to produce mowers for homeowners as well as golf courses. The company was listed in Stroudsburg directories until about 1959. According to the listing of the members of the Manufacturers' Association of Monroe County in 1926-27, the company at that time had an average of 26 employees.

In the early 1920s, Worthington kerosene engines were made in sizes from 1? to 25 HP by the Worthington Pump and Machinery Corporation. C. C. Worthington managed the firm for the last twenty years of the last century, before moving on to other pursuits. This illustration is from an A.S.M.E. catalog.