Only 5 available
Before gas-engined farm tractors were as common as Model Ts in America's garages, the steam tractor was agriculture's beast of burden. An awe-inspiring device in the mid-1800s—stoked by fire and belching great plumes of smoke— steam traction engines allowed America's farmers to turn vast sections of prairie into tillable soil.
Portable steam engines hauled by horse teams represented the first step in steam technology and were first offered in the 1840s. Self-propelled steam traction engines had to await the development of a mechanical concept taken for granted today: steering. By about 1880 inventors had sorted out this "minor" detail, and steam tractors were hissing and rumbling across the country.
American Steam Tractors chronicles in 80 special color photographs the history of steam power, from the early portables to the monstrous engines of the early 1900s. Machines from 18 of the most significant manufacturers—including Case, Advance, Huber, and Best—are showcased here along with each company's history.