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Utility Steel Tractor was first built here


Antigo Tractor Co. actually wasn't the first tractor company in Antigo.

  In 1915, four years before Antigo Tractor was founded, David S. Stewart and two other men, neither from Antigo, organized the Utility Steel Tractor Co. and manufactured at least one tractor.

  The group planned to esablish a plant to manufature tractors in an Illinois city, according to the Antigo Journal of June 26, 1915.

  Besides Stewart, the holder of four wheel drive patents, the other two men were W.C. Woodin and F.A. Hecker. Neither man was further identified by the Journal story except that Woodin was "a mechanic and had been connected with a number of large manufacturing institutions."

  The 1915 demonstration of the tractor was held on what is now Highway 45 north of the fairgrounds.

  The tractor pulled an eight foot road grader at a speed of three miles per hour, twice the speed of 6 teams of horses that would have been used to accomplish the same results.

  The performance was "hightly satisfactory," according to the Journal, "and it should be able to grade and finish one mile of road in a day and also was able to pull six to eight plows with ease."

  The tractor could run at 10 miles per hour without a load.

  A picture of the tractor is in the book, Encyclopedia of Farm Tractors. The tractor resembled an "overgrown soap box racer," according to the book, which also stated that "while crude and unrefined this model proved to be an important step in a series of Stewart designed FWD tractors."

  All assembling and machining of the tracor parts was done in Antigo.

  There is no known evidence as to what happened to the Utility Tractor Co.. It evidently faded from the scene as did Woodin and Hecker. Stewart, however, returned to Antigo and in 1919 helped found the Antigo Tractor Co.

Source: Antigo Daily Journal October 26, 1994.

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