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Stories from the valley

Tracks in the Valley

Caterpillar (Cat) tractors have had and continue to have a great legacy in Sacramento Valley farming. The Caterpillar Tractor Company was originally formed in 1925 as the result of a merger between the Holt Manufacturing Company and C. L. Best Tractor Company, the Caterpillar name originated years earlier when Benjamin Holt replaced the wheels with wooden tracks bolted to chains. Both C.L Best and Benjamin Holt were pioneers in the mechanization of agriculture.

The history of Caterpillar Tractors is kept alive by members of Antique Caterpillar Machinery Owners Club (ACMO). I attended an event hosted by the Cal Sierra Chapter of the Club at the Traynham Ranch in Arbuckle. Ranch owner Lee Traynham has a collection of antique Cats and he was joined by other members of the chapter in displaying and running these old machines. What was semi frightening to me is I remember seeing some of these same models of tractors in the field many years ago.

It was a fun day as I got to visit with friends and see some old machines that refuse to die. We compared stories on which Cats we had driven back on the farm. What was most impressive was that several of the tractors had at least three generations of a family involved in their restoration and operation. The legacy of these great machines will always be alive and it great to see them out in the countryside where they belong.

If you are interested in antique tractors and farm machinery I encourage you to visit the California Agriculture Museum in Woodland. They have a one of the best collections of tractors and other farm machinery around.