Sports History - A 20 Part Series.


Part 20 of 20: The Tractor That Could and Other Interesting OSU Firsts

On any college campus with enough athletics to fund football, the summer months represent a "down time" for school sports, with fans using June through August to predict what the coming gridiron games will bring for the home team.

As a way of using our History Minute weekly feature to help kick off the hot months ahead and to give Beaver fans something to talk about other than the old pigskin and what are Ken Simonton's chances of picking up OSU's second Heisman, we at E-clips thought it might be fun to look at some other achievements recorded by the OSU family over the last, say, 100 years.

We'll let you decide if any of these are "athletic" in nature... or not... but they are all 100 percent true.

Which brings us first to our "tractor" story.

In the month of April, way back in 1930, someone in OSU's Agricultural Engineering Department decided it might be a good idea to have the department try and break the world's record for what was called a "tractor endurance run."

Whatever the old record might have been, our friends in Ag Engineering shattered it with a 20-day, 1,000 mile non-stop run on the college experimental farm, pulling disks, harrows and other tractor implements along the way.

Drivers from the faculty, staff and students took turns at the controls of the tractor, which had no name but was officially designated PT2407.

To begin the run, the tractor was christened in a special ceremony using a bottle of Oregon prune juice. A special parade and pageant signaled the end of contest and Governor A.W. Norbland was in attendance.

So whatever happened to PT2407? A few years ago, OSU Archivist Elizabeth Nielsen became curious about its whereabouts and began digging around. She found it, through the help of Portland collector Harry Cruchelow and his connections with the Antique Caterpillar Machinery Owners Club. At least at that time, 1995, the tractor was the property of the Halton Tractor Company of Portland and was on public display.

Other firsts:

In 1960, Oregon State entomologist Robert L. Goulding developed the world's first flea collars for dogs and cats. His "collar" was made available to the public in 1964.

When Oregon State hired Captain Benjamin Boswell to teach military instruction in 1873, he became the first U.S. Army officer on active duty to teach military science at a land grant institution in the West.

Six years later (1889), Dr. Margaret Snell would establish another first for OSU (known then as State Agricultural College) by starting the first Department of Household Economy and Hygiene in the West. This would eventually become OSU's College of Home Economics.

As most Beavers know, Ernest H. Wiegand developed the process used in the making of the maraschino cherry. Few, however, know it was also Wiegand who developed the first horticultural products program in the U.S. This was in 1919.

Looking on, UW's players found the new antics of the Beavers somewhat "odd," as if they were grouped together to have a prayer meeting. An eyewitness to the game was veteran Seattle sports columnist Royal Brougham, whose stories of the contest give testimony today to OSU's early use of this pioneering new formation that would forever change the game of football.

-- By George Edmonston Jr., History and Traditions Editor