| November/December 1981

  • Tractors

  • Tractors

New Ashford, Massachusetts 01237

I took this picture about 4 o'clock. It was a cold, gloomy winter afternoon and I had my doubts that it could be developed. I know it was February, 1927 and I was going to high school at the time. We had a week off in February and I thought I was a big shot driving one of those tractors. I remember it was ten below zero as someone read it on a thermometer on the building in the background; also note the sheepskin coat on the man in the foreground.

That winter we had three 2-ton Holts and a 10-ton Holt. We were moving or transplanting large trees by digging around and under and freezing the earth surrounding the roots of the trees, known as the frozen ball method, for the owner of a Massachusetts estate who wanted a quick landscape effect. We transplanted several hundred large maple and elm trees weighing from two to forty tons each. Note the ball of earth in back of the second man! It is an elm tree about 20 years old weighing about 3 tons as the tree was about 30 feet tall and we had overhead wires and branches of roadside trees to pass under. It was loaded in a horizontal position on a specially built iron shod stone boat and fastened with chains and binders, then hauled to the new location. It was a little too heavy for one 2-ton so the two shown were hooked up tandem fashion. It is surprising what 4 tons of these little Cats could accomplish. I was driving the second tractor and always carried a folding Brownie in a low spot on the floor between the seat and the side of the cab. One can see where I left the door open; they only had one door. When I stepped out to take the picture, one can see the original Caterpillar trade mark on the side of the hood. Supposedly the action of a crawling caterpillar is a red up and down band on a grey background. It had the word Caterpillar in small red letters at the beginning and end of the band. I believe this trademark was dropped after Holt and Best merged in 1925, although tractors were still painted grey to about 1933. That same week we moved a maple tree in its prime weighing about 35 tons. We hauled this upright and had the Ten Ton and three Two Tons hooked on. It was good sledding for the stone boat, light snow on frozen ground, however this is not good traction for the Cats. We came to a rise in grade and all three of us were about to spinout when a driver of a Federal truck pushed it on the rear side of the ball and it was just enough to get us over the hill. Remember the old Federal trucks? They were an assembled truck it was jokingly said, the only thing Federal made was the name plate; they were well made and rugged. We also had snow plows for two of the 2 Tons and the 10 Ton. I put in many an hour day and night pushing these old timers through New England snow storms. The cabs were made of wood, sheet tin and glass. When new, they were not too noisy for a couple of months, but vibration soon loosened everything up and if you drove these in high gear on a frozen road bed and they would handle a snow plow in high gear, they rattled so badly you could still hear it rattling in your head a half hour after you switched off the engine.


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