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C. C. WORTHINGTON AND THE WORTHINGTON MOWER

Author Photo
By Staff | Sep 1, 1999

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The Worthington Airfield 'Grass Blitzer.'

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.

Gas Engine Magazine

Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines