PIONEERS OF STEEL:

A Brief History of the Pioneer Tractor Mfg. Company

| March/April 1997

  • Ben and Myrtle Huntley
    Ben and Myrtle Huntley, a well-known photographer and model, were hired by the Pioneer Tractor Company to make a motion picture in Canada of their Pioneer tractor, probably to be used for sales.
  • Myrtle Huntley

  • Catalogue Illustration
    Also from the Huntley Collection at the Winona County Historical Society came this picture, which appears to be a catalogue illustration.
  • Unidentified photo
    Another unidentified photo from the Winona County Historical Society.
  • Pioneer Manufacturing Company plant
    Pioneer Manufacturing Company plant at far right, Empire Lumber Co. in background. This photo, taken around 1914, shows the plant at Front and Carimona Streets in Winona, when E. M. Wheelock was vice president. The picture is used courtesy of Joe Brosig.

  • Ben and Myrtle Huntley
  • Myrtle Huntley
  • Catalogue Illustration
  • Unidentified photo
  • Pioneer Manufacturing Company plant

Reprinted with permission from Winona Post and Shopper, Winona, Minnesota. The article first appeared there in September 1995, and was sent to us by Ron Olson ,4179 Thornhill Lane, Vadnais Heights, Minnesota 55127. Photos courtesy of the Winona County (Minnesota) Historical Society's Huntley Collection.

At the turn of the century, as the great forests of West Central Wisconsin were cut down, came the decline of the great lumber mills along the upper Mississippi. Winona, having four large sawmill operations, was especially hit by not having logs coming into the city. With a 1910 population of 20,000 and more banking done than in any other city of the same size, the desire for new industry was great.

Pioneer Tractor Company had just incorporated in Minneapolis in April, 1909. The company's prototype tractors were an instant success but they needed larger manufacturing facilities. Winona's wealthy financiers provided the opportunity the startup tractor company required and in March of 1910, the Pioneer Tractor Manufacturing Company was incorporated in Winona.

The new Winona tractor company initially leased the Sash and Door Factory building from the Empire Lumber Company located at the S.E. corner of Front and Carimona. This building (presently occupied by Winona Dray Line) is all that remains of the tractor company that expanded with buildings extending two blocks east and one block north toward the river.



Production of the Pioneer tractor began in the summer of 1910 as partially assembled tractors were brought to Winona. As new equipment, supplies and some skilled machinists were relocated in Winona the company was producing about two tractors per week at the end of 1910.

The 'Pioneer 30,' a 30 drawbar and 60 belt (30-60) horsepower was the first tractor model Pioneer produced. This tractor was unusual in that it boasted a fully enclosed cab. The Pioneer 30 was 21 feet long, 10 feet wide, 11 feet high and weighed 23,000 pounds. The big tractor also carried a big price tag, $3,000. The Pioneer 30 featured a four cylinder horizontally opposed engine with a fully enclosed drive train with a three-speed transmission. Lighter weight structural steel was used where possible instead of cast iron.



SUBSCRIBE TO GAS ENGINE MAGAZINE TODAY!

Gas Engine Magazine A_M 16Gas Engine Magazine is your best source for tractor and stationary gas engine information.  Subscribe and connect with more than 23,000 other gas engine collectors and build your knowledge, share your passion and search for parts, in the publication written by and for gas engine enthusiasts! Gas Engine Magazine brings you: restoration stories, company histories, and technical advice. Plus our Flywheel Forum column helps answer your engine inquiries!

Be sure to take advantage of the Square Deal Subscription Program.

  • No Missed Issues.

  • No Renewal Notices.

  • No Additional Cost.

The Square Deal Subscription Program is designed as a paperless transaction with automatic renewals at a preferred low rate.   With advanced electronic notification, a 100% satisfaction guarantee and an easy opt-out plan, the Square Deal Subscription Program is the best value, risk free, eco-friendliest way to subscribe.




Facebook YouTube

Classifieds