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Friday, November 14, 2008

Caterpillar Man





Here in Stockton, California we actually have a famous person buried in the Rural Cemetery. Even his tomb-house is pretty elaborate compared to the rest in the cemetery. While I was at the cemetery I took this picture on impulse, not knowing at the time I would become a Graveyard Rabbit. I am glad I kept it because now I have something to blog about this week!




Benjamin Holt - Can any of you guess what he is famous for? Well here’s a hint - He invented the Caterpillar Tractor.




Benjamin Holt was born in New Hampshire on New Year's Day in 1849. He was the fourth son of William Knox and Harriet A. Holt. Benjamin's older brothers were Charles, William Harrison and Ames Frank. The Holt family operated a saw mill in New Hampshire and processed hardwoods for wheel and wagon construction.
At the age of 20, Benjamin went to work at his father's lumber factory. Three years later, he received an interest in the business. His three older brothers left New Hampshire years before in the 1860s and set up a similar business in San Francisco. Their company, called C.H. Holt and Co., produced wooden wheels and later metal wheels for streetcars. Benjamin shipped hardwoods from New Hampshire to his brothers, who took the wood to dry in the arid climate in Stockton.


In 1883, the Holt brothers formed a new company, the Stockton Wheel Co. Recognized as the “mechanical and entrepreneurial genius of the family,” Benjamin moved out west in 1883 to manage the new business. The Stockton Wheel Co. factory cost $65,000 to construct It consisted of a three-story brick building and a one-story wood frame building. It employed 25 men.
Sinking into the mud was a common problem on farmland surrounding Stockton where Holt made his residence. Caterpillar tracks allowed practical cultivation on an industrial scale on the rich farmland. Holt's tractors had a conventional wheel on the front which was used to steer and caterpillar-type wheels on the back, and looked very similar to traction engines. Holt patented the caterpillar track on December 7 1907, having first invented it on November 24 1904.

Benjamin Holt died 5 December 1920 and was buried at Stockton Rural Cemetery. In honor of Benjamin, we have a street and a school here in Stockton named after him.

3 comments:

Terry Thornton said...

Interesting! Those machines and the men who drive them have shaped this country completely! Thanks.

TERRY

Linda W said...

Don't forget about the Haggin Museum in Stockton.

Holt Memorial Hall: Documents Stockton’s contributions to industrial history and featuring a Holt ‘75’ Caterpillar track-type tractor with a 1904 Haines-Houser combined harvester, both of which were developed in Stockton.

Victory Park
1201 N. Pershing Ave.
Stockton, CA 95203-1699
Phone: (209) 940-6300
Fax: (209) 462-1404
E-mail: info@hagginmuseum.org

Peter Aschenbrenner said...

Verry interesting. Can sombody help me with drawings for Holt's tractor, i would like to build a toy / model.

thank you,
Peter
www.aschisworkshop.com