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Jesse G. Lindeman

Jesse Lindeman
Mr. Jesse Lindeman on his Lindeman-John Deere BO Crawler ~ Click on image above to browse Yakima Memory Collections on this subject.

Jesse G. Lindeman was a legendary, self-taught, agricultural-equipment engineer who was noted especially for his designing of the dependable crawler tractors and many other agricultural implements.

The sturdy tractor did many jobs: climb steep orchard hills, could maneuver under orchard branches, work in row crop farming, wheat farming, logging, earth moving and handling cargo in the holds of ships. The tractors were very popular, and a good basic design, dependable and cheap for anyone to fix, and cheap to operate. In 1930, gas was six cents a gallon with no taxes.

The full name is Lindeman-John Deere BO crawler: B-model design, O-orchard. Crawler is added to distinguish the Lindeman steel-track creation from the standard four-wheel rubber tire model. It was the circular tracks that Lindeman invented for the John Deere tractor. Also, he lowered the frame to nine inches from the ground and lowered the seat making it practical to run under the orchard branches.

John Deere of Waterloo, Iowa, continued to build the two-cylinder, 18-horse power engines and transmissions for the tractor. They were then shipped to Union Gap where the Lindemens, Jesse and his brothers, Harry and Ross, and employees adapted them to the track model.

The crawlers were built and marketed in the 1930s and 1940s. The cost then was $1,365 to $1,450. At the company's peak, they employed over four hundred people. Many of these earlier tractors are still being used in agriculture today. Many have been restored and are in antique machinery collections selling for several times their original price.

Lindeman realized that western agriculture, particularly the fruit-growing industry, needed more versatile equipment. He had a successful plan to lower the tractor to go under orchard branches and one that could cover steep terrains. Other of his design inventions included rotary tillers, special equipment for fruit handling, orchard disc harrow, land slopers, two-way plows, hydraulic hitches and tool carriers.

Lindeman and his brother Harry established the Lindeman Power Equipment Company in 1924. It was a retail implement business with a small machine shop and forge. His brother Joseph joined the company in 1925. The business was sold to John Deere and Company in 1947. He received $1,250,000 for the business ($500,000 for the plant and equipment, and $750,000 for his continued consolation).

In 1954 to 1982, Lindeman and his brother Joseph owned Northwest Equipment Co.. Joseph died in 1982 and the company was sold. In 1985, a smaller factory, Lindex Co. Inc., on South First Street, Manufactured three-point hitches and power take-off units for the crawler tractors under Lindemen's direction.

Lindeman was born on a small farm in Cass County, Iowa, where he attended schools through the eighth grade. He joined the Air Service of the U.S. Army in 1918 during WWI. After his discharge, he went to Wenatchee in 1919 and then moved to Yakima in 1920. He married Jane Omega Tufts in 1924. They had three children: Bruce, Bill, and Betsy.

Jesse Lindeman was a true pioneer of the manufacturing industry that later developed in the Yakima valley. Mr. Lindeman died in 1992 at the age of 92.

Paul Cook of Yakima, a leading collector of Lindeman crawlers, donated one of his nine BO Lindemans to the Yakima Valley Museum where it has become an important part of the orchard exhibits.


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