Benjamin Leroy Holt & Clarence Leo “C.L.” Best


2016 Class
Benjamin Leroy Holt (1849-1920)
Clarence Leo “C.L.” Best (1878-1951)

Benjamin Leroy Holt built his first combined harvester in Stockton, California, in 1886, using flexible chain belts rather than gears to transmit power from the ground wheels to the working mechanism, thus reducing breakage and down time. He built his first steam traction engine tractor in 1890, which could burn wood, coal or oil as fuel and carry 675 gallons of water. Holt incorporated the Holt Manufacturing Company with his brothers in 1892.

Meanwhile, Clarence Leo “C.L.” Best began his career in 1891, at the age of 13, working for his father Daniel Best. Best established the C.L. Best Gas Traction Co. in 1910, the same year Holt Manufacturing registered “Caterpillar” as a trademark. The two companies merged to form the Caterpillar Tractor Co., in 1925. Its first product line consisted of five tractors. In 1936, the company’s track-type tractors helped complete the construction of the Hoover Dam, and one year later Caterpillar machines helped complete the Golden Gate Bridge. Best was chairman of the board of Caterpillar Tractor Company from its founding until his death in 1951.

Whether supporting Allied Troops during World Wars I and II, widening the Panama Canal or helping to construct the Three Gorges Dam in China, “Caterpillar Yellow” machines are known as the standard for the industry. The company, whose current product line consists of more than 300 machines, helped transform the way both the private and public sector transportation construction market completes projects.

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