Editor’s note: Some time ago, Mr. R. M. Elliott, RD 1, Box 3, Morris, NY 13808 forwarded considerable material regarding this company. We believe that the history of the Linn Mfg. Corp. represents an interesting and heretofore untold story.
When H. H. Linn came to Morris, New York in 1915 he had little intention of entering the manufacturing business. At the time, Linn owned a traveling road show with trained dogs, musical entertainment and the like. Already in 1904, Linn had built a gasoline-powered outfit using a single crawler track in the rear. The track was of the Lombard design. Since Linn was at the time representing the Lombard people as a traveling agent, the road show tied in nicely with his journeys to sell these machines to sawmills and for snow removal purposes.
The first Linn tractor
While Linn’s first tractor was built primarily for his own use, the inventor envisioned it as a purely agricultural machine rather than as a truck, or perhaps a tractor-truck. Extant letters by Mr. Linn bear witness to this fact, despite the contention of some automotive historians who claim that the Linn was built primarily for use on the road. Further testimony to this point is the fact that Linn contacted Deere & Company requesting prices for a 6-bottom, 14-inch plow to be used with the new tractor design.
The decision to enter the manufacturing business came about shortly after building the first tractor. A polio epidemic ended the revenue from the road show, thus forcing Linn to find some other means of making a living. Dissatisfied with the huge steam-powered Lombard machine, Linn equipped his first unit with a four-cylinder engine, probably a Continental. Later models used various engines, including Waukesha, Hercules, Buda, and Cummins Diesel. A local newspaper reported in 1918 that the company had already produced ‘a dozen tractors’ in temporary quarters.
For logging and snow removal, the Linn tractor was an ideal solution. This, despite Linn’s original concept of a farm tractor soon became an established fact. By the 1920’s, dozens of Linn tractors were in regular use for road work and snow removal. Many more were put into service by lumber operations and construction companies. As an example, Linn tractors were in use at the Grand Coulee Dam, T.V.A., and several other large construction site.
The U.S. Government purchased a number of Linn tractors for use by the Armed Services, and a few were equipped for use at oil and gas wells.
The end of the line
About 1920, the chassis with open or enclosed cab, but without body or steerage sold for $4,650. Either sled steerage or wheel steerage could be selected for an additional $ 100. The chassis platform with stake pockets added $50, and an Arcadia four-yard dump body with hydraulic hoist was priced at $800. Electric headlights, generator, and battery listed for $100, as did a special 20-foot frame, built especially for hauling pulp logs. By the late 1930’s a Linn tractor fully equipped and carrying a Frink snow plow listed at nearly $20,000.
The Army Ordnance Department purchased ten Linn tractors in 1935. These were equipped with a Hercules engine. Known as the T-6, this unit was equipped with a PTO winch, and used a body similar to the usual 2 ton military trucks. These had a top speed of about 25 mph, compared to about 12 mph for those built for heavy hauling.
The combination of the Depression and changing technology finally brought an end to the Linn tractors before or during World War II.
Proof of H. H. Linn’s genius is disclosed by his patents covering many different items. In 1925 he built one of the first mobile homes. Known as the ‘Linn Highway Haven Pullman’ it paved the way for an entirely new industry. Linn’s ‘U-Can-Back’ trailer was a small unit attached to a car bumper at two points. The single rear wheel was free to caster at will. Trailers of this and similar designs are still on the market. Linn and Carl H. Frink teamed up to build the first Linn-Frink snowplows, and Frink plows can still be found in operation.