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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago: ‘Power farming,’ also known as tractors, on display in Pullman

Tractors, a revolution of ‘power farming,’ were on display in Pullman. (Spokesman-Review archives)
Tractors, a revolution of ‘power farming,’ were on display in Pullman. (Spokesman-Review archives)

A revolution was taking place in the farming industry, illustrated by a huge event held in Pullman: a “power farming demonstration.”

It was an exhibition of tractors, which were displacing horses all across the region.

To say that farmers were intrigued by the idea is an understatement. Before the event even started, the parking lot of the exhibition grounds was filled with 400 automobiles, “and this number was doubled during the afternoon.” A majority of the attendees had flocked in from outside of Pullman – from farms and ranches all over Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Montana.

A total of 20 makes of tractors were on display, along with 13 kinds of farm trucks.

“A feature of today’s demonstration was the excellent mechanical work of Mrs. Roy King of Portland, wife of the Russell Tractor expert, who operated the ‘15-30’ Russell, unassisted over the steep hills of the Cole farm,” said a correspondent. “Mrs. King is an expert operator and attracted wide attention, especially from the farmers’ wives present. She has demonstrated the Russell at all of the principal fairs of the Northwest.”

A professor from the University of California was also on site, conducting dynamometer tests to ascertain the draw-bar pulls of various plows.

“These tests are for the information of the tractor men and the public to show the amount of power required to pull plows in the Palouse country, representing the extremes in topography.”

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