Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School



"From Horse to Horsepower: Farm Tractorization and the Rural Landscape" examines man 's imprint on the land due to changing farming technologies in the American Midwest. Specifically, during the transition between the "horse era," when horses were the primary power source of agricultural power, and after tractorization took place--that is, when horses were displaced by tractors. This thesis examines transformations within the cultural landscape due to significant technological changes on the farm. Aspects involved encompass the broad topic of the "rural landscape," elements of which include fields, farm buildings, farm equipment and implements, farmsteads, rural roads and bridges, crops, fences, and the general history of the mechanization of agriculture, deliberate manipulation of the environment for mankind 's ends, that is, to provide food, fiber, and shelter. For purposes of this study, the landscape may be divided into urban and rural components. The rural landscape is the focus of this study. This study does not attempt to cover all aspects of the rural landscape; rather, it will focus on the farm and its related elements. The rural-urban "fringe" is relevant only insofar as it illustrates the dynamic interaction and interdependence between the rural and urban boundaries. These boundaries pose a threat to the preservation of much of our rural cultural heritage, as many of the old farm buildings and other rural relics are being torn down to make way for factories, housing projects, and shopping centers. The urbanization of rural society is beyond the scope of this study, as many scholars have dealt adequately with this topic. The farm community is necessarily connected to urban centers for transportation, marketing, financing, electrical supply, and various other services. Ties between the rural and urban communities are much stronger today than they were during the "horse era" when farms were largely self-sufficient.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Farm mechanization -- Middle West
Tractors -- Middle West
Land use, Rural -- Middle West
Farm mechanization -- Minnesota
Tractors -- Minnesota
South Dakota State University Theses



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University