Text Box: Walking Plows

From the original Buford & Tate plows all the way to the end of the Rock Island Plow Company, the walking plow remained a core part of the company’s catalog. Despite a lineage of over 80 years, the last generations of walking plows remained little changed from the first. The primary evolution of the walking plow came not in fundamental design change but in specific adaptations to specific needs. This is not a complete listing but should cover the evolution well.


Rock Island Walking Plows

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The earliest advertising I have that shows the Buford plow line in detail is the 1880 Buford Atlas. Undoubtedly a number of these designs had been in use before 1880, however this would have marked the debut of their chilled plow.

 The Atlas lists (Texas Black Land not listed):

1886 didn’t see a lot of major design changes, although the models listed show more specialization. The important change was that  The B.D Buford name had now been replaced by The Rock Island Plow Co.


The 1886 Pocket Companion lists:


The 1889 pocket companion lists:                                                The 1891 lists:                          


1900 & 1903

The 1928 and 32 catalogs still contained two pages of walking plows, relatively unchanged from a decade and a half before.



1913 Although by 1913 many people now think of the ascendency of the tractor, the walking plow was still a major part of American agriculture.

Walking Plows

Superior Construction


The 1921 small catalog only had two pages of walking plows, however it is clear they still produced a fair variety as the 1925 catalog still had a substantial walking plow section.

Turf and Stubble                                           Stubble and Township/Road

declared “best plow for all uses”. At left is a small woodcut from an 1857 advertisement in a local  paper (full ad on the Buford & Tate Page). Although stylized, it bears a strong resemblance to the May western plows and the John Deere plows Tate had helped build a few years earlier. At right is a newspaper ad drawing from an 1867 paper. The 1867 plow is readily identifiable with the plows fifty years later. From the start, at least a dozen plows and multiple cultivators were produced.

There are few examples of early Buford  & Tate plows being illustrated, most ads of the day were printed text. It is known however, the it did not take long for Buford & Tate to be noticed for their diverse line. At the State Fair of the Illinois Agricultural Society in 1858, Buford & Tate earned multiple awards for their plows and cultivators including being

This 1929 brochure shows Rock Island was still actively marketing the walking plow.