Hart Parr #3 Tractor

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Charles W. Hart and Charles H. Parr developed a two-cylinder gasoline engine and set up their business in Charles City, Iowa. In 1903 the firm built fifteen tractors (a term coined by Hart and Parr), and the 14,000 pound #3 is the oldest surviving internal combustion engine tractor in the United States. The two-cylinder engine has a unique hit-and-miss firing cycle that produced 30 horsepower at the belt and 18 at the drawbar.
The tractor worked on the George Mitchell farm near Charles City for twenty-three years. Realizing the historic importance of Hart-Parr #3, the Oliver Tractor Corporation (which had absorbed Hart-Parr) purchased the tractor and used it to demonstrate the quality of the firm's products. In 1960, Oliver made a gift of #3 to the Smithsonian.
When it arrived at the National Museum of American History, it was painted solid black and did not have a canopy. Despite its unauthentic appearance, it remained on exhibit for years. In 2003 the Smithsonian agreed to a restoration plan, and a team from Greenville, Illinois, composed of Oliver and Sherry Schaeffer, John W. Tichenor, Doug Strawser, and Todd Stockwell restored #3 to its original color and fabricated a new canopy. The Smithsonian's Larry Jones coordinated the work. Restoration was funded by the Hart-Parr/Oliver Collectors Association.
The restoration project was fully documented both by photographs and by a journal kept by John W. Tichenor. When #3 appeared at the I & I Antique Tractor festival in Penfield, Ill., in 2003, oral history interviews were done with members of the Mitchell family, the Hart family, and the key people who did the restoration work.
Currently on loan
Object Name
Date made
company co-owner
Hart, Charles W.
Parr, Charles H.
Mitchell, George
Hart Parr Tractor Company
Wrang Tang Liniment Co.
Physical Description
iron (overall material)
steel (overall material)
Place Made
United States: Iowa, Charles City
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
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Work and Industry: Agriculture
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Oliver Corporation

Visitor Comments

11/14/2012 1:08:09 PM
K. Beauchamp
Just wondering if the Hart Parr tractor is on display in the museum of American History?
7/16/2013 3:10:24 PM
National Museum of American History
We do not have the Hart Parr on exhibit. The Museum is closed due to renovation.
7/19/2013 10:30:32 AM
I have an old post card picture taken in Montana circa 1904 take at my Grandfather's ranch. It has a picture of a Hart Parr Tractor in the field. It such a wonderful picture over all with the old homestead, out buildings etc. Thank you
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9/18/2013 4:43:37 PM
Sherry Schaefer
I took this picture in my father's backyard. We had the privilege of working with the Smithsonian on the restoration crew. The canopy was reconstructed in my garage using 100-year old railroad timbers that I had ripped for the frame. It was an amazing project!