The Dakota tractor was the brainchild of G.W. Elliott, an entrepreneur from the town of De Smet, South Dakota, who had been experimenting with tractor designs with his son Paul since around 1905. It is unclear exactly when the first Dakota was built, but report from September 1912 mentions that the third example built had been exhibited at the South Dakota State Fair that year. The Dakota was a three-wheeled design, which used Elliotts patent "Open Grip Drive Wheel" at the rear and featured a Waukesha four-cylinder vertical engine. Two sizes were offered, the No.1 and the larger No.2, and by 1917 at least twenty tractors had been built - these were shipped as far afield as California, Texas and even Argentina. The same year an agreement was reached with the Pope Manufacturing Co. of Watertown, SD to build Dakota tractors at their new factory. A new model was introduced - the "Model 4" - with the Waukesha power unit replaced by a Doman engine, but unfortunately financial difficulties meant that the last Dakota tractor rolled off the production line in 1922.

For a more detailed history of the Dakota tractor, including many archive photos, see the excellent article by Brenda Stant in "Engineers & Engines" magazine (Vol.55, No.6) based on research by Bill Lee, from which the above information was sourced.

(Click on images below to enlarge)

Dakota No.2 (built 1913) at the South Dakota State Agricultural Heritage Museum, Brookings, South Dakota, USA in 2011.


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