The Golden Gate Gas Tractor Co.

| June/July 2002

The opening page from a surviving product catalog for the Golden Gate tractor, date unknown. It's interesting to note the address at the bottom is actually a paper slip glued over the original page. Under the slip the words 'McLaughlin Manufacturing Co.' are just visible.

Never heard of the Golden Gate Gas Tractor Co. of Berkeley, Calif.? Don't feel too bad, because until recently, neither had we. And truth told, we found out about the company almost by accident.

While researching the history of steam tractor manufacturer McLaughlin Manufacturing Co. for sister publication Iron-Men Album (see Iron-Men Album, May/June 2002, page 14), I received an e-mail from Ed McLaughlin, the grandson of McLaughlin Manufacturing Co. founder Dennis W. McLaughlin. Filling me in on what he knew of Dennis McLaughlin's steam tractor business, Ed casually mentioned that Dennis, after going out of the steam tractor business, went on to manufacture gas-powered tractors under the name of the Golden Gate Gas Tractor Co.

A search through various reference sources failed to find even a single mention of the company, and never having heard of the Golden Gate Gas Tractor Co. I wanted to know more.

Golden Gate Tractors

Like its predecessor, McLaughlin Manufacturing Co., Golden Gate Gas Tractor Co. was a small-scale manufacturer, and the company's launch was clearly a reaction to the waning influence of steam tractors in the agricultural market. The McLaughlin Manufacturing Co., which is thought to have launched sometime around 1902 or 1903, was likely in business for less than five years - and is thought to have made as few as five steam tractors.

From surviving patents (six, to date) we know that Dennis McLaughlin was an inventive man. In 1903 he received patents for a traction wheel and a steering mechanism for steam tractors, and he employed those designs in the construction of his own steam tractors. In response to the increasing importance of smaller tractors in the market, he continued his pursuit to further refine the tractive capacity of tractors in various conditions, and on July 4, 1916 he was awarded a patent for a traction wheel for 'small' tractors.