BOOK Review

Benjamin Holt & Caterpillar Tracks & Combines

| March/April 1985

  • Book Rack

  • Book Rack

Dr. Reynold M. Wik, America's top scholar on farm machinery, is the author of a new book, 'Benjamin Holt & Caterpillar Tracks &. Combines', which is one of his best.

We quote Wiks' opening paragraph of his foreward, to give readers some idea of the stature of Holt and the machines he manufactured:

'It has been a gratifying experience to write this volume about Benjamin Holt because he was an inventor and industrialist who manufactured machines which lightened the burden of labor for working people in America. His development of the combined harvester revolutionized crop harvesting, and his first successful track-type tractors represented a major engineering improvement in the use of the wheel. His achievements stand in importance with the contributions of Cyrus McCormick, John Deere and Henry Ford to the history of technology in rural America.'

Wik also quotes the wording of a 'modest plaque' in front of Holt's residence in Stockton, Cal.:

'The Caterpillar Tractor, born of the brain of Benjamin Holt, straightened roads, leveled valleys, flattened mountains, stored waters, cleared jungles, and served our National Defense. Its crawler track has carried the burdens of mankind produced food for the mouths of the world.'

Keith E. Dennison, director of the Haggin Museum at Stockton, notes in the preface that the human stories of Benjamin Holt and his brothers are told for the first time in this book. Dennison and Raymond W. Hillman, of the museum, gave the impetus for the book, and the museum aided with both historical materials and a fund grant. The museum has a Holt Memorial Hall and exhibits many Holt machines and memorabilia.