Text Box: Gang and Sulky Plows

It didn’t take long for American agriculture to outgrow the simple walking plow. With the advent of sulky and gang plows a farmer could accomplish far more behind a team of horses. The advent of the tractor did away with horses, but a number of riding plows first used for horses remained in use long after the tractor was adopted. The plows listed here are all of the riding type, the dedicated tractor plows have their own section, though many of these still saw use behind a tractor.  This is by no means a full list of the yearly offerings made by RIPC, but it is a good sample.

Gang and Sulky Plows

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By the mid 1870’s Buford & Co were manufacturing sulky and gang plows in large quantities.  Few ads exist from this time so it is difficult to date exactly when and what was produced, but the Brown Sulky is certainly one of the earliest appearing sometime before 1877 (ads below). The earliest date I have for the Buford gang plow is in the B.D.. Buford & Co Atlas from 1880, though it likely predated that.  The picture at right is from an ~1881 trade card.

The 1880’s and 90’s saw further refinement and more special purpose designs, although the basic designs remained mostly the same. Names like the Buford Wheel-Landslide sulky and the Eli walking/riding/single or double gang appearing mid 1880’s replaced older names, although exact introduction and replacement dates are unknown to me.

From the mid 1890’s to 1910, RIPC introduced a number of specialty plows including their first disc plow. Names like “Simple Simon” and “Columbia” spread throughout the country. Some would prove highly successful, while others disappeared in only a few short years.  As Rock Island refined their designs, many of the special purpose plows gave way to a simplified one size fits all design with specialized shares as options. 

The 1913 large catalog had a stunning array of options, literally something for everyone. The option of the CTX made a vast array of options available for many of the frames as well.  Although a few plows retained a proper name, almost all were now given a number designation.

The 1910 short catalog only offered three basic designs, but were more refined and offered multiple options. The “Liberty foot lift”, the “HiLo” and “Rock Island Special” were not all that different in form from previous designs, but each offered more individual options.


By 1928, the riding plow had fallen far out of favor as tractors had become cheap and plentiful, but like the walking plow they still had a place in Rock Islands catalog.  The 1932 catalog remained mostly the same as the 1928 catalog in offerings. 



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TBX / Page 2 / Page 3 / Page 4

Uncle Sam

No. 5 Two Way Sulky / Page 2

No. 6 Gang / Page 2

No. 8 / Page 2 /page 3 /

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No. 10 Gang / Page 2