In 1939, the Frank G. Hough Company in Libertyville built the world’s first production payloader tractor shovel. Hough-International Harvester employees and Pay Loader, circa 1965. 2006.15
The company became the largest employer in central Lake County with 3,000 employees, and eventually the world’s largest manufacturer of rubber-tired tractor shovels.
Inventor Frank G. Hough (1890-1965), pictured above, coined the term "payloader."
Hough was working as a mining engineer in Wisconsin in 1920, when he conceived of the idea of "moving bulk materials in large quantities with hydraulically operated, mobile equipment."
By 1933, his company was incorporated and operating out of Chicago. In 1939, he opened his plant in Libertyville, which covered 14,400 square feet, and where the first Model HS Payloaders were manufactured. View of Hough Company, Libertyville, 1939. (LCDM 2010.34) This machine arrived at a time when there were no machines with shovels attached to the front or rear, and it provided speed, maneuverability and fast cycle times.
Hough machinery on display at ConExpo, 1969. (LCDM 2006.15)
Hough was an industry and community leader in Libertyville. Under Hough's leadership and legacy, the company defined the modern wheel loader, and accomplished such achievements as four wheel drive, torque conversion and the hydrostatic transmission.
Hough Company entrance. (LCDM 2010-34.32)
In 1952, Hough sold his company to International Harvester. By then his plant occupied over 312,000 square feet and employed more than 1,000 people.
Photo of employees celebrating their anniversaries in November 1957 (as pictured in the company's newsletter). Left to right: G.A. Gilbertson (management); William F. Pentzien, 15 years; Floyd F. Patrick, 10 years; Betty L. Cazel, 5 years; Fred A. Arnold, 10 years; Edgar White, 10 years; Richard H. Moore, 10 years; Minor B. Williams, 10 years; Jack Forney, and George J. Stedronsky, 10 years. (LCDM 2010.34.43)
Hough equipment being tested at the company's Proving Grounds in Antioch, Illinois, circa 1970. (LCDM 2006.15)
Drafting department, Hough-International Harvester, Libertyville, circa 1965. (LCDM 2010.34.19)
Offices at Hough-International Harvester, Libertyville, circa 1965. (LCDM 2010.34.5)
View of the manufacturing operations at Hough-International Harvester, circa 1965. (LCDM 2010.34.35)
Hough dissolved in 1966 and became a division of Harvester. Dresser Industries bought the plant from Harvester in 1981. Komatsu Ltd. formed a joint venture with Dresser in 1988. Komatsu is a Japanese company that manufactures construction and mining equipment, and was founded in 1917.
Komatsu and Dresser Industries established Komatsu Dresser to make mining tractors and related equipment. This 50-50 ownership lasted from September 1988 to August 1994, when Komatsu bought out Dresser's share.
H-65C Pay Loader, Libertyville, circa 1970. (LCDM 2006.15)
In 1995, Komatsu America Corporation purchased the plant. The Libertyville plant closed in 1996 when Dresser and Komatsu reassessed their manufacturing capacity in the United States. Komatsu's mining products were consolidated under the name Komatsu Mining Systems in 1997.
Aerial photograph of Libertyville plant, circa 1975. (LCDM 2010.34)
Like Hough and International Harvester before them, Komatsu still uses the Antioch Proving Grounds for testing earth-moving machines.
Komatsu's headquarters are now in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. Komatsu America is the second-largest, fully-integrated manufacturer and supplier of construction equipment in North America.
In recent years, the museum has received several generous donations of Hough and International Harvester items from the company and former employees, including photographic images, newsletters, Payloader models, and even a drafting table and drafter's tools. A sample of the photographs and slides have been shared in this post.
The earliest Hough donation was made to the museum in 1961 by the company itself. The 1939 Hough Model HS Payloader (LCDM 61.51.) is shown in front of the company plant.