What started as the Pioneer Tractor Co. in 1909 went on to become the Pioneer Tractor Mfg. Co. in 1910 after only about a year under their original name. With not only a change in name but also a change in location from Minneapolis to Winona under their belts, it was time to see what else these folks might change, specifically in the tractor world.
When production began at their new location in Winona, Pioneer initially was able to make one tractor per week. In a short period of time they were able to amp production up to two per week and then to one per day. With local newspapers singing their praises, Pioneer rested assuredly that selling their creations would not be a problem, and so several different tractors were cranked out.
The Pioneer 30-60 was their first creation. It was built with a horizontally opposed four cylinder engine also made by Pioneer. This tractor had four wheels with the rear ones being 8 feet tall and weighed in at 23,000lbs. Designed to break sod and heavy wax lands in North Dakota and Texas, this machine was advertised as able to balance a silver dollar on the edge of the crankcase without it falling off during operation at 550rpms. This tractor was among the more popular and highly desired of the Pioneer line.
As the year 1912 rolled around, the 30-60 design was expanded upon to become the Pioneer 45. This tractor had a 6 cylinder engine but the same bore and stroke as the 30-60 (7 by 8 inch). It weighed in at 30,000lbs and took the rear wheels up a notch from the previous 8 foot height on the 30-60 to a new 9 foot height. About a year into production of this machine, a lull occurred in the large tractor market. Because of this, a reduction in size was necessary and the Pioneer Jr. was born. While much information regarding this tractor is elusive, it is known to have had a 4 cylinder engine at 6 foot tall rear wheels.
Next in the lineup was the 15-30 Pioneer Pony which arrived in 1916. This tractor had three wheels and weighed in at 5,500lbs. The Pony only lasted about a year before another venture was born, that being the Pioneer Special, which was a four wheeled version of the 15-30. The engine in both of these tractors was a four cylinder but the Special was heavier, weighing 8,500lbs, but it too was replaced by 1919. The Pioneer 18 was an 18-36 with the same engine as the two previous tractors but had an ability to run at 750rpm.
(Photo Credit heathstroke.blogspot.com)
Around the year 1920, things went dark for the Pioneer Tractor Mfg. Co. and little is said of them afterward, possibly due to the Depression and their highly priced, large machines not exactly going hand in hand. Things were quiet on the Pioneer front until a reemergence in 1925 as Pioneer Tractors Inc. which had plans produce road equipment. By 1927, however, the company ceased operations entirely. It is suspected that transitioning to smaller tractors was the beginning of the end for Pioneer, a fate that, when combined with the effects of the Depression, they simply could not overcome. Although developments brought about at the hands of Pioneer live on, such as tractor cabs and enclosed engines and transmissions, the tractors themselves have been relegated to the history books for a minimum of 87 long years.