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The Idea That Grew

In 1911, Benjamin Franklin Gravely began transitioning his idea for a motor plow into reality. For the next four years, Gravely tinkered with his idea, finally applying for a patent in 1915.

One of his earliest prototypes was the 150-pound, single-wheeled plow pictured below.

Gravely’s wife, Elizabeth, testing the Model D prototype

On Dec. 5, 1916, one hundred years ago, Gravely was awarded the patent for his motor plow. In his application, Gravely explained the importance of his invention.

“The object of the invention is to provide a motor plow of the type employing but a single traction wheel and in which the motor is so arranged that the plow will be properly balanced when passing over the ground,” Gravely said.

He further explained that he wanted his motor plow to be available to everyone who wanted it, not only those who could afford a new tool.

“A further object of the invention is to provide a motor plow of the type named which will embody comparatively few parts, will be simple in construction, efficient in use and which can be manufactured at a comparatively small cost,” Gravely said.