Copy write 2011-2016 not for republication or sale without express written consent. All images are the property of their respective owners and are not to be reused without their express permission. 

Above left: Various postcards and advertising showed the Rock Island Plow Co. as it developed. This dates from a circa 1910 catalog, but the same photo is also seen on a postcard dated 1908.

Above Right: an expansion added in 1911 shown in this photo as having just been laid.

Below: A view from 1911 from the river.

Below Rock Island Plow Co. early 1920’s

The Rock Island Plow Co.

Founded in 1855 as Buford & Tate, The Rock Island Plow Company (RIPC) was one of the many companies including Farmall, Moline and John Deere that made the Quad Cities area the hub of ag innovation and production at the end of the 19th century and well into the 20th century. Many of these early innovators worked for more then one of these local companies and their history’s are intertwined. The history of the early years of the Rock Island Plow Co. are especially entwined with John Deere, and the serious student of Deere’s life and early company will find many interesting details here I think. Many famous people from the Rock Island area were involved in the company, and many names may be familiar. When the company was sold in 1937 by the Weyerhaeuser's to J.I. Case, it closed an important chapter in the history of agriculture and the Rock Island area. Contrary to occasional commentary, there was no connection with the Rock Island Lines Railroad, although RIPC did use the “Rock Island Line” in occasional advertising.

This page is dedicated to the history and products of Buford & Tate, The Rock Island Plow Co. and Heider Tractor Co. In addition, the company also used the names Rock Island Implement Co, The Northern Implement Co in Minnesota and Southern Plow Company in Texas (although there was another company in Dallas also using the name). In it, you will find information on these companies and their products, their history and their connections including major sections on Rock Island Tractors and Heider Tractors. There is also a compilation of print articles and some useful links. Some information may be contradictory or incomplete. Unfortunately, many of the records no longer exist or are not attainable; and most of the people directly associated with the Rock Island Plow Co. even in its later years are no longer with us. I have also noticed a number of the printed articles and books contain some verifiable misinformation which can hopefully be addressed.

I have also added pages on some interesting locally built tractors that may not be familiar to many people on the Affiliations and Clones Page Like Velie, Dain, Root & Van Dervoort, Moline, Bolte, Cummings, Charter, Creeping Grip and Golden West.

A special acknowledgement needs to be made to the following people who have helped make this possible:

 Steve Barr

Jeff J. Marshall -

David Parfitt -

Randy Kvill - Reynolds-Alberta Museum

Rick Mannen

Kenny Bush


The staff and authors referenced so heavily for this project at Antique Power especially Pat Ertel and Heritage Eagle’s  R.E.Hoffman


Please Help!

I am not going to ask for cash donations or anything, but I really could use help. The help I am looking for is information. IE; I need ads, brochures and manuals. If your not interesting in selling, I really appreciate scans or photographs. If your willing, I will happily pay postage both ways to scan a manual. While I have the common manuals, I lack some of the rarer ones.  I especially need late model information. I am also looking desperately for ads and photo’s, again especially late model as it has proven harder to obtain.  Credit will be given for any contributions.

Recent Updates

March 2016 Been a while for updates, I lost easy access to my website software and never had the drive to redo the site in its entirety in a new program. Couple that with a little burnout from preparing for last years feature at our local show and moving for a new job and new house, and I haven’t gotten a lot done on here in the last year. To be honest, I really haven’t found much new information in the last year to push an update. I finally regained access to software, but newer is not always better and I lost the ability to edit the html feature so the scrolling recent updates text box is going away.

Major update to the Heider DU page. We have added a DU to our collection and with it a lot more knowledge of this tractor.

Also working on a wrench page


Rewrote and added pictures to DU page

Minor tweak to Rock Island History page