Earthworm Tractors

Have you ever heard of Earthworm Tractors? Neither had I. At least not until one of the Museum’s intrepid volunteers, Gail Erwin, came across the name on a paper in one of our collections. The document dated from the 1930s, and the imagery it evokes was obviously intended to remind readers of Caterpillar Tractors, whose origins . . . → Read More: Earthworm Tractors

The Andrew C. Kern Collection

The Caterpillar Tractor Company underwent several major changes throughout the 1930s to adapt to the economic conditions of the Great Depression. After the stock market crash of 1929, the company managed to survive by exporting tractors to the Soviet Union. In the mid-1930s, the market for tractors in the United States improved due to the growing . . . → Read More: The Andrew C. Kern Collection

The Best Show

How fertile is your imagination? Do you ever wonder what life on the farm was like long ago? Have you ever wanted to experience the feel, smell, and noises of long-forgotten agricultural and construction equipment powered by horses, mules, steam, and diesel? Do the tractors and harvesters displayed at the San Joaquin Historical Museum suddenly come . . . → Read More: The Best Show

Nuts, Bolts, and the Holt 75

Remember the Holt 75 tractor that volunteers and staff at the Museum are restoring? (If you don’t, see the entry for March 23, 2011.) Not long ago, they removed the steering mechanism for repairs and hoisted the engine from the frame (left). Then they disassembled the engine. People close to the project tell me . . . → Read More: Nuts, Bolts, and the Holt 75

The Big Four

The other day, Museum volunteer Gersh Rosen walked into the library talking about the Big Four. The Big Four who entered my mind were major Allied leaders at the Paris Peace Conference that ended World War I: U.S. president Woodrow Wilson, British prime minister David Lloyd George, Premier Georges Clemenceau of France, and Italian premier Vittorio . . . → Read More: The Big Four

Early “Caterpillar” Tractor Undergoes Restoration

One of the most famous inventions in San Joaquin County history is the track-laying tractor, which today we associate with the name Caterpillar. This milestone in technology was well-suited to the deep peat soil of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and will be linked forever to the name of Stockton inventor and entrepreneur Benjamin Holt (1849-1920).

The Holt . . . → Read More: Early “Caterpillar” Tractor Undergoes Restoration

Fresno Scraper to Be Recognized

The horse-drawn Fresno Scraper, an earthmoving and ditch digging apparatus that contributed to the expansion of American farming at the turn of the twentieth century and played a role in the massive earthmoving work for construction of the Panama Canal, will be re-designated by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) as a Historic Mechanical Engineering . . . → Read More: Fresno Scraper to Be Recognized

Who Invented the Fresno Scraper?

I’m an anthropologist/archaeologist and not much inclined to embrace the “great man” approach to history. I suspect that many creative individuals had a hand in developing what became the landmark, horse-drawn Fresno scraper (photo at left). The desire to level San Joaquin Valley land for irrigation and dig ditches was the initial driver. And the mechanical . . . → Read More: Who Invented the Fresno Scraper?

Tomatoes and Machines

I don’t know about you, but I find the appearance of the machine at left somewhat menacing. Give it limbs and tentacles, and I see it fitting nicely into the set of a science fiction movie from the 1930s.

But this is not a robot or space alien. It’s a tomato harvester, one of the . . . → Read More: Tomatoes and Machines

Tule Shoes

What in the world is a tule shoe?

A couple weeks ago, collection manager Julie Blood retreated into the storage areas of the Museum and emerged with the two similar objects, one of which is pictured at left. She placed them on a work table next to her desk and members of the staff gathered around like . . . → Read More: Tule Shoes