Shipping companies gradually switched from horses to tractors for winter freighting. The Patricia Transportation Company used Fordson tractors but replaced them in 1931. The Fordson tractors could only pull 2 sleighs. These tractors were dangerous and often would tip or roll backwards when pulling freight up hills. In 1930, the Northern Transportation Company (later Starratt Airways and Transportation), bought tractors. Both companies
purchased Cletac tractors, which were gasoline-powered
crawlers. These tractors were much safer but used a lot of
gasoline. By the mid-1930s, both companies replaced their tractors with new models more equipped to handle the winter weather.
The tractors pulled several sleighs tied together. Today, this is often referred to as a tractor train as these tractors would pull up to 6 sleighs. In the 1930s and 1940s, these joined sleighs were often referred to as a “swing” just like the barges. The crew consisted of 2 drivers and 2 cable slingers, who would hook and unhook the sleighs as well as cook meals. For each crew of 4 men, one was appointed the swing boss.
Tractor Train Driving in Deep Slush, 1937
Tipped tractor train, date unknown
Fordson tractor pulling snow