TEN BELOW ZERO

By Staff
article image

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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