The Morton Traction Co. of Fremont, Ohio was founded in 1904 by S.S. Morton of Pennsylvania, USA.
Businessman S S. Morton and his associates formed several companies and built several tractors with Morton in the name. Morton built his first "Traction Engine" in 1899. He received a patent for it in 1903 and incorporated the Morton Traction Co. in 1904 in York, Pennsylvania to manufacture the "Morton Traction Truck". It was a tractor chassis (called a truck) on which any of several Stationary type single-cylinder gasoline engines from 6-50 hp could be mounted. In 1904-05 Morton sold the patent to the Ohio Manufacturing Co. of Upper Sandusky, Ohio. Ohio Manufacturing supplied Morton trucks to several tractor 'manufacturers' and built the first IHC Type A tractors for International Harvester, putting International's "Famous" engines on a Morton chassis. Ohio Manufacturing Co. continued to make the Morton trucks until 1913 and built the 2WD Whitney 9-18 tractor from 1916-21. The company changed its name to Whitney Tractor Co. in 1921 and went out of business shortly afterwards.
Meanwhile, Morton interests set up the Morton Tractor Co. of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and experimented with tractor designs. Chris Heer of the Heer Engine Co. in Portsmouth, Ohio joined with Morton in 1910 to form the Morton-Heer Co. in Portsmouth to build a 4WD tractor designed by Heer. The 4WD, 4-wheel-steering, tractor with equal-sized front and rear wheels, center-pivot steering, worm-drive axles, and a Heer horizontally-opposed 2-cylinder engine was the first 4WD tractor on the market when it was introduced in 1912 (Heer received a patent on it in 1915). The Heer Engine Co. soon absorbed Morton-Heer and the Morton-Heer tractor became the Heer. The Heer company was reorganised into the Reliable Tractor and Engine Co. in 1915 or 1916. The new company manufactured the Reliable 10-20 2WD tractor until 1921. The same tractor was sold by Fairbanks, Morse & Co. as the Fair-Mor tractor.
The Morton interests formed the Morton Tractor Co. of Fremont, Ohio and about 1912 began building a copy of the Heer 4WD tractor under the Morton name. Morton and associates also began experimenting with a small 2WD tractor called the Morton Motor Plow and formed the Morton Motor Plow Co. in Columbus, Ohio where production began in 1914.
By 1912 the Morton Tractor Co. of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, renamed the Morton Truck & Tractor Co., had developed a Morton 4WD tractor with some design features in common with the Heer tractor. By 1920 the Harrisburg Morton company had been replaced by the Pennsylvania Tractor Co. of Philadelphia, which produced the 4-cylinder engined Morton Four-Wheel Drive 40 and the 6-cylinder engined Morton Four-Wheel Drive 60 rated at 60HP.
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1. Gray, R.B. (1954). The Agricultural Tractor: 1855-1950. American Society of Agricultural Engineers.
2. Wendel, C.H. (1992). Encyclopedia of American Farm Tractors. Motorbooks International, Osceola, Wisconsin.
3. Wendel, C.H. (2000). Standard Catalog of Farm Tractors, 1890-1960. Krause Publications, Iola, Wisconsin.
4. Wendel, C.H. (2005). Standard Catalog of Farm Tractors, 1890-1980, 2nd Ed. Krause Publications, Iola, Wisconsin.
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