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Hart-Parr Tractor: Iowa Time Machine July 6, 1872

Iowa Time Machine ⏰: On July 6, 1872, Charles Walter Hart was born in Charles City. Co-founder of the Hart-Parr Gasoline Engine Company, Charles Walter Hart helped found the tractor industry.

Growing up in Floyd County, Hart worked for his father’s lumber and farming operations before heading to Elliott Business College in Burlington. After a brief stint at Iowa Agricultural College, Hart headed off to the University of Wisconsin where he met his future business partner Charles H. Parr. The two completed five working internal combustion engines while working on degrees in mechanical engineering.

Upon graduation in 1896, Hart and Parr used a $3,000 loan to start the Hart-Parr Company. Rapid expansion led the partners to relocate from Madison, Wisconsin, to Charles City, Iowa, in 1900. Over the next two years, the company completed the design and construction of what is generally considered the first commercially successful American tractor powered by an internal combustion engine.

Hart-Parr dominated the early tractor industry, rapidly expanding while farmers across the United States bought up stock. Through expansion into international markets, Hart-Parr boasted a third of all global tractor sales by 1907. Hart helped to push the company toward success through unique management and marketing strategies, but the competitors largely caught up with the company by the close of World War I. Despite losing control over market share, Hart-Parr continued to crank out tractors in Charles City until 1993. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalender 


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