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State Historical Society of Iowa

Aerial View of the John Deere Tractor Company in Waterloo, Iowa, 1944

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Aerial photograph of a large manufacturing facility.  More than fifteen buildings are visible within the complex, and it even has two water towers.  A network of railroad lines are in the foreground, and a river is in the background.
Courtesy of the State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines Register & Tribune, 1944


In the late 1800s and early 1900s, farmers all over America turned to tractors with gasoline and diesel-powered engines. But it was not until 1918 that Deere & Company started producing them. Even then, it was under a different name because Deere & Company bought out the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company in Waterloo, Iowa. According to the company website, they sold 5,634 Waterloo Boy tractors in their first year. They continued manufacturing the popular "Waterloo Boy" tractor under that brand name until 1923 when John Deere came out with the John Deere Model D. In 1927, John Deere came out with its first harvester. This is how the John Deere Tractor Company came to be located in Waterloo, Iowa, and they are still there today. This photograph from 1944 shows a large network of buildings, railroad lines and roads. There is even two water towers to supply the factory.

Source-Dependent Questions

  • Think about the community that a John Deere factory was/is located in. How big of an impact does Deere & Company have on non-farmers in and around that community?
  • Look at the roof on each building. Most of them seem to have a part that is built up higher than the rest of the roof and has windows in it. Why do you think that may have been built that way?