Holt Mfg. Co.

Charles Moreing, a large landowner in the San Joaquin Valley approached Holt with a unique problem. He had large areas of soft peat that defied conventional steam tractors. Holt set out to build an outfit with sufficient flotation to work on Moreing’s soft peat. The engine that emerged used wheels 7 1/2 feet in diameter and 6 feet wide. These were mounted in groups of three on each side of the engine. Although this machine was cumbersome to the extreme, it was capable of working 44 feet of ground at one pass.

Manufacture Logo


Stockton Wheel Company, of Stockton, California, built their first steam tracklayer tractor in 1890. In 1892, the name of the firm was changed to Holt Manufacturing Company, taking the name of its founder, Benjamin Holt Holt demonstrated his first successful tracklayer in 1904. It was based largely on Holt’s 1891 patents. Between 1906 and 1908, eight steam-driven tracklayers were built. In its first major expansion, Holt bought out Daniel Best in 1908, and began production of a gasoline-powered tractor that year. Expansion continued with the 1909 purchase of the defunct Colean Manufacturing Company buildings at Peoria, Illinois. During this same time, plans were made to locate at Minneapolis, Minnesota. Known as the Northern Holt Company, this setup was abandoned in favor of the Peoria plant. During the ensuing years, Hold became a leader in the tractor industry, specializing in crawler tractors. C. L. Best was one of Holt’s strongest competitors. In the 1925 merger, Holt and Best pooled their interests and formed the Caterpillar Tractor Company at Peoria, Illinois.


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