Stockton’s Industrial Foundations

Have you ever wondered why history has taken the course it has? Those of us who work at the San Joaquin County Historical Museum sometimes do. One of the questions that arises at times is why Stockton developed a manufacturing base in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Wagon factory (lower right) in early Stockton.

The . . . → Read More: Stockton’s Industrial Foundations

Putting the Pieces Together

Remember the Museum's 1919 Holt 75 tractor, the one being restored? This blog has discussed it a number of times over the past year or so. Well, the work goes on.

Too big for your Honda: Jerry and Mike with the Museum’s Holt 75 engine.

Visit the Museum on any given Tuesday and you'll find the shop . . . → Read More: Putting the Pieces Together

Henry Ford and Benjamin Holt

Henry Ford (1863–1947) is not one of my heroes. However, I do admire the innovations he brought to the assembly line. By the beginning of the twentieth century, many manufacturers already understood the value of interchangeable parts. But Ford was the first to apply this insight to the automotive industry. Using identical parts enabled him to . . . → Read More: Henry Ford and Benjamin Holt

Benjamin Holt and the Caterpillar Tractor

I find it amazing that San Joaquin County was for fifty years or so the capital of earthmoving equipment. The County’s industrial, transportation, and financial infrastructures came into existence shortly after the Gold Rush, during the dry-farmed grain era. But it was the reclamation of rich peat soils of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the switch . . . → Read More: Benjamin Holt and the Caterpillar Tractor

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

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

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