John Deere’s 1918 entrance into the tractor market at its Waterloo Works factory has been recognized in the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier’s “Cedar Valley 50,” a daily feature which highlights places, events, and things that have helped define the northeast Iowa region.
Deere, founded in 1837 and financially-fueled for many years by the plow John Deere himself developed, was looking to break into the expanding tractor manufacturing market in the early twentieth century. To drive this effort, the company purchased the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Co., which at the time was a reputable organization occupying a unique place in early tractor manufacturing.
According to the WCF Courier article, Deere executive C.E. Velie wrote company President William Butterworth, stating, "I am more than satisfied we have made the best move Deere & Co. has ever made, and that it was an extremely fortunate thing that we were able to buy this plant."
Deere’s purchase gave them ownership of the “Waterloo Boy,” a two-cylinder tractor that was an immensely popular piece of equipment in the industry at the time. Deere’s first Waterloo-made tractor, the Model D, was produced in 1923 and served as a company standard for 30 years. In 1926, the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Co. was officially renamed John Deere Tractor Co. The Waterloo location now boasts 6,000 employees and includes a number of facilities spread throughout the metro area, making it the city’s largest employer.
John Deere’s entrance into the tractor market is looked at as a landmark event in the Cedar Valley region, being recognized as a feature in the WCF Courier’s “Cedar Valley 50.”