#5 La Crosse Works

The humble beginning of the La Crosse Plow Company started in 1860, when John M. Barclay and I.S. Bantan started the Barclay and Bantan Implement Works in La Crosse, Wisconsin. In May 1865, Albert Hirschheimer bought the small shop and carried on making horse-drawn farm equipment there, calling it the A. Hirschheimer and Company.*

Hirschheimer partnered with Barclay, after the acquisition, to produce the farm implements together, until Hirschheimer would eventually be the sole proprietor. They started off on a small-scale and then began to grow as competitors began to go under. By 1893 the small shop had grown into organized company, which he renamed the La Crosse Plow Company.

Albert Hirshheimer
Albert Hirschheimer
(Murphy Library Collection)

In 1888, the La Cross Plow Co. had grown a substantial amount. In the early years it was Hirschheimer and Barclay that operated and did the grunt work at the plow shop. In an 1888 publication called The Industries of La Crosse, Wis., said that “ forty-five to fifty hands are employed from the year around” and that the machines built at his works “meets the wants of the farmer exactly.”

La Crosse Plow Co. Ad
(La Crosse Library Collection)

The La Crosse Plow Works was an innovator in its line of machinery. It was able to make and sell a better designed balanced horse-lift cultivating unit. When tractors entered the farm scene, Hirschheimer began to design and build stronger implements to be pulled by tractors. Among some of its other firsts, once tractors came into the scene, in the farm machinery line were power-lift grain drills and power-lift tractor plows.**

Copy of d15iid_plow
Allis-Chalmers D-15 Tractor and Plow

Hirschheimer was the president of the company until his death in 1924. Hirschheimer’s sons Harry and Louis took control of the company and ran it for the last remaining years as an independent company. In October 1, 1929, the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company, based in Milwaukee, purchased the failing La Crosse Plow Company for $275,000. Allis-Chalmers then had a plow line that could compete with other farm machinery manufacturers.**

The La Crosse Works, as it was known from then on, went on to build a complete line of planters, listers, disc harrows, cultivators and other tillage tools under the Allis-Chalmers name. The factory was expanded and updated a number of times under Allis-Chalmers. By the late 1960s, Allis-Chalmers was consolidating operations, and the La Crosse Works was shut down. The manufacturing orf tillage equipment was moved to other Allis-Chalmers branches.

*  Swinford, Norm. Allis Chalmers Farm Equipment 1914-1985. pgs 214-215.
**Peterson, Walter F. An Industrial Heritage: Allis Chalmers Corporation. pgs 254-255.

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