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John Deere Forestry Timeline

From the horse to the skidder, the skidder to the Full Tree team, to the advent of Cut to Length – logging equipment has come a long way. For John Deere, the tradition of logging equipment has been a constant mandate of improving productivity and uptime while keeping operating costs low.

Before mechanization in the forest, loggers used sharp axes and brute strength to fell trees, and loaded them on horse-drawn sleds to be hauled to the river. Skilled river drivers maneuvered the logs downstream at great risks to their limbs and lives.

Steam was the first form of mechanization to modernize the forests of North America. It came in the form of a small steam donkey. The donkey would consist of a steam boiler and a steam engine connected by a winch all mounted on a sled, called a donkey sled. The donkeys were moved by simply dragging themselves with the winch line. The process evolved rapidly, and the donkeys were used for both yarding and skidding.

Forest professionals were trying to find ways to mechanize logging already a decade ago, but the actual development of forest machines started only in the middle of the 1900s. More mechanized forest technologies were being developed in Europe – particularly Finland, where forestry remains a mainstay of the country to this day.

John Deere has been developing and producing forest machines from the start. The company's roots are in the 19th century and the production of forest machines was started before 1950.

Technology including advanced harvesting systems are getting more and more efficient, which not only means cost savings for the logger, but also better stewardship of the natural forest environment. John Deere is doing their part to help expand the future for loggers, and to keep productivity, uptime, and low daily operating costs a priority.

1837 - 1937

18371837 A man named John Deere started a company with a revolutionary plow fashioned from a broken sawmill blade. This humble start would go on to help America—and the rest of the world—grow for nearly two centuries.

18831883 An 1883 catalog featured a complete sawmill, a familiar sight at many self-reliant family farms of the era.

19181918 (Timberjack) The blacksmith Jonas Östberg set up a shop in Alfta, Sweden, and it later grew into Ösa, i.e. Östbergs Smidesfabrik Alfta, M&G Östberg.

19371937 John Deere Model D tractors were pushed into service as logging winches. The wheels and seat were removed and wooden skids attached to the front, enabling the winch to be powered from the stationary machine.

1947 - 1961

1947 (Timberjack) Timberland machines was founded in Woodstock, Ontario, and began producing
products for the logging industry.

19491949 John Deere released the machine that would take the logging world by storm: the “MC” Crawler. The “MC” earned high marks from loggers due to its prowess in tough terrain such as steep slopes and soft soil.

19571957 John Deere introduced the 440 Crawler, a precursor to the changeover to all yellow machines the following year. The 440 also featured an easy-to-operate, inside-mounted hydraulic blade.

19611961 (Timberjack) Timberland Machines released the Timberjack 200 Series Skidder. Available with a 61-horsepower Ford gasoline engine, the first articulated skidder to bear the Timberjack name had a suggested list price of $8925.

1965 - 1983

19651965 The John Deere 440 Skidder changed the game when it was released in 1965. Before its arrival, wheeled skidders were little more than an engine in a frame. The 440 brought operator comfort into the equation to increase safety and productivity.

19771977 John Deere unveils the 743 Tree Harvester, which combined the speed of rubber tires with the reach of a boom, allowing operators to harvest two trees a minute as it paved the way for today's modern harvesters.

1983 (Timberjack) Rauma-Repola Forest Machine Group was established in Finland under Rauma
-Repola Oy Lokomo-industries. The Forest Machine Group was negotiating the purchase of
Timberjack, Valmet and Kockums forest machine operations. Lokomo Forest was founded in
Finland; Rauma-Repola Forest Machine Group acquired Kockums forest machine operations in

1986 - 1991

1986 (Timberjack) Rauma-Repola Forest Machine Group was negotiating with Caterpillar about cooperation and acquired 60 % of the French Cemet-Agrip and entered into a cooperation with Timberjack.

1989 (Timberjack) Rauma-Repola purchased 100 % of Timberjack.

1990 (Timberjack) The group was renamed FMG Timberjack.

1991 (Timberjack) Rauma-Repola merged with a Finnish company United Paper Mills and FMG Timberjack was attached to Rauma-group.

1994 - 1998

1994 (Timberjack) FMG Timberjack was renamed Timberjack-group.

19971997 In the late'90s, customer and dealer feedback was brought into the design process through the formation of dealer and customer advocacy groups, known as DAGs and CAGs. This user-centric approach to design was another John Deere first.

19981998 John Deere partnered with Hitachi Construction Machinery Co., Ltd. to manufacture purpose-built, excavator-based logging machines. Deere-Hitachi Specialty Products (DHSP) is located in Langley, British Columbia.

2000 - 2015

20002000 John Deere purchased both Timberjack and Waratah. In addition to bringing exciting new technology and R&D assets to the brand, this purchase solidified John Deere as the clear worldwide leader in forestry.


2005 Timberjack Oy was renamed John Deere Forestry Oy and the new machinery was
trademarked John Deere.

2012 2012 No look back would be complete without a quick glimpse forward. John Deere is proud of our contribution to the forestry industry, and looks forward to continuing to provide you with the same level of innovation today, tomorrow, and for the next 175 years.

2015 John Deere celebrates 50 years of skidders with the release of the new game-changing L-Series machines. Explore the history of John Deere Forestry Skidders.