The History of The Bulldozer


About the Bulldozer

You’ve probably seen bulldozers at work many times. These large, heavy machines play a vital role in modern land clearing and construction. A typical “dozer” maneuvers across open land on a continuously moving set of metal tracks, pushing huge moveable horizontal metal blades or “rams” in the front. It can scrape up large quantities of earth and vegetation in its wake. This equipment, seemingly a cross between a tractor and a skid loader, enjoys a surprising history.

The Roots of the “Dozer”

The design of this heavy equipment owes much to both agriculture and the tumultuous years of World War I. The development of mechanized tractors around the turn of the last century enabled farmers to automate many plowing and tilling tasks which had previously required backbreaking manual 

labor. In 1904, an American named Benjamin Holt devised a tractor capable of crawling along a series of metal tracks. He appreciated the commercial potential of his invention, and in 1909, he bought a factory in southern Illinois to manufacture his crawling tractor.

About five years later, Benjamin Holt bought the patent for another “crawling” machine developed by the British Hornsby Company. That company had designed its equipment for the purpose of setting down railroad tracks across open terrain. The British military reportedly used some Holt crawling tractors in Europe during World War I to haul supplies. This equipment could tackle uneven, rugged terrain.

A Tractor Attachment Goes Mainstream

The builders of the first bulldozing tractor, farmer James Cummings and draftsman J. Earl McLeod, patented their design on January 26, 1925, as an accessory for tractors. The pair constructed this machinery in the small town of Morrowville, Kansas, where today a replica stands in the town park. Its blade made this equipment very useful commercially. The term “bulldozing” at the time meant using rough, brute action to accomplish a goal. People soon applied the term to this tough new farm equipment.

In 1925, the company founded by Benjamin Holt merged with a leading rival, the C.L. Best Company. It formed a new enterprise which eventually became Caterpillar, Inc. During subsequent decades, many companies began manufacturing bulldozing machines. These firms included John Deere, Caterpillar, International Harvester, Case, Komatsu, and many others.

Design Improvements

People found a multitude of uses for this heavy machinery. From clearing land quickly to construct roadways, to shoveling snow and assisting with disaster cleanup efforts, the bulldozer quickly became a staple of the heavy equipment industry. Today, manufacturers often supply bulldozers with high tech accessories, including GPS systems. These machines perform work in a variety of settings.

For bulldozer services in Texas, you can rely upon Phillips Industries. We also offer road building, land clearing, land development, fence demolition, fence installation, and many other construction related services. Call us now at 512-800-9787 to receive a free estimate.

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