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RSS By: Aimee Cope, Farm Journal

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Bobcat Steers Its Way to the Smithsonian

Oct 27, 2009

For the cause of historical record, Bobcat Company has donated 58 boxes (56 cu. feet) of records to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.


The records focus primarily on production, marketing and advertising. They span a period from the 1940s to the present and illustrate the progression of a small, family-owned company to the company Bobcat is today. The donation includes photographs, product literature, advertisements, employee newsletters, drawings, scrapbooks and audiovisual materials. Housed in the museum’s Archives Center, these papers join the museum’s extensive collection of agricultural, industrial and business papers.

A selection of these records is scheduled to be on view from Nov. 30 through Jan. 17, 2010.


Bobcat Company manufactures compact construction and ag equipment and is based in North Dakota. Bobcat Co. started as Melroe Manufacturing Co., a Gwinner, N.D., family-owned ag equipment maker founded in 1947. Based on a request from a local turkey farmer the original compact loader was invented by Louis and Cyril Keller, who operated a small family blacksmith shop in Rothsay, Minn. After prototypes, a move to North Dakota and an acquisition by Melroe Manufacturing Co., the three-wheeled Keller loader went into production in 1958 as the “Melroe self-propelled loader.”


In 1962, as a four-wheeled model, it was named the “Bobcat” skid-steer loader, because of its “tough, quick and agile” characteristics and “skid-steering” ability to turn within its own length. This single product became successful and the company later took the Bobcat name, while adding several other machines to its product line.


Click here for the Smithsonian web site of the National Museum of American History.


Click here to visit the Bobcat section of the Smithsonian web site.

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