Over the years, we’ve been fortunate to locate a number of legendary vehicles, rare artifacts, and exclusive historical documents now housed in our Wheels That Won The West® Archives. Along the way, we’ve also been honored to assist with many restoration and conservation projects taking place throughout the country. More recently, Doug Hansen and his team at Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop reached out for details that would help in the dating, authenticating, and restoration one of the rarest John Deere wagons ever built. More on that in a bit but first a little background…
It’s not uncommon these days to hear someone refer to a wagon as an 1800’s John Deere. Even so, it’s a statement that isn’t supported by history. While John Deere distribution/jobber houses did market and sell wagons in the 19th century, they were of a different brand; perhaps the most notable of which was the Moline wagon. As I pointed out in my August 21,2013 blog, the closest John Deere came to labeling their own wagons prior to purchasing several wagon factories was the private labeling of vehicles sold by a specific distributor. Ultimately, it wasn’t until the acquisition of the Moline Wagon Company in 1910 that actual ‘John Deere’ marked wagons began to roll off of the assembly line.
These original ‘John Deere’ wagons were built at the Moline Wagon Company factory in Moline, Illinois. Within a couple years, the firm was renamed as the John Deere Wagon Company. In between that time, as Deere was ramping up its own wagon offerings, these vehicles often carried the names of two wagon brands – both John Deere and Moline. If it sounds confusing – it was to some. There was a method to the madness though. The twin names on the wagons were meant to help bridge the transition from a legendary wagon name like Moline to an agricultural giant like John Deere. Recognition of and owner loyalty to the Moline tag was huge and Deere wanted to ensure all parties that the reputation of Moline was being transferred to the new John Deere line. Soon after the renaming of the factory, Moline’s trademarked ‘running greyhound’ was also removed, leaving only John Deere references on the wagon and gear.
The wagon being restored by the team at Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop hearkens back to a time of more than a century ago. Bearing extraordinary details - including the original running greyhound design - from the 1912 era, this ultra-rare John Deere Iron Clad is being carefully restored. When finished, the vehicle will not only stand as a tribute to the grand legacy of John Deere but will also represent a remarkable time of transition when two great names became one and John Deere took on a significant presence in the world of wagons. Congratulations to the Hansen team and the proud owner who will soon add this one-of-a-kind restoration to his extraordinary John Deere collection.