Robert Gilmour LeTourneau
Inventor, Innovator, Business Man, Devout Christian
by Dave Giffin

    May 2018 Newsletter Items   
The Early Ford V8 Club
PO Box 0471
Pekin  IL 61554-0471
FACEBOOK: Early Ford V8 Club 

     Born in Richford, Vermont in 1888, the family moved to Duluth, Minnesota when he was two.  He has been described as restless, inquisitive, stubborn, rebellious and energetic by his parents and siblings.
     In 1902 the family moved to Portland Oregon where his father started a home building business.  R.G. did not like school and dropped out during his 8th grade.  He left home in 1906 for a job in San Francisco at an iron works.  In 1908 he was almost killed while he slept during the San Francisco Earthquake.  In 1909 he moved to Stockton, California and got a job as a mechanic in a garage. 
     In 1919 he got a job with a farm machinery dealer as a mechanic.  He drove his first tractor and scraper, made by Holt Manufacturing.  He loved it and felt he had found his calling.  He then became a land-leveling contractor, owning a tractor and a scrapper.  His first invention was a one-man tractor-scraper, eliminating the usual operator on the scraper.
     In 1921 he built a factory in Stockton, California to make machines for his business, which he incorporated in 1929 as R.G. LeTourneau, Inc.  In 1932 he built the first rubber tire scraper.
     In 1935 he opened a factory in Peoria Illinois and made arrangements with Caterpillar to get sales representation in their sales centers.
     In 1937 he designed the Routnapull, a self-propelled scraper with a two-wheeled tractor in front.  At first it was not at all well-received. In the years to come he built factories in Toccoa, GA; Rydalmere, Australia; Vicksburg, MS; Stockton-On-Tees, England and Longview, TX.
     In 1946 he founded the LeTourneau Technical Institute in Longview, TX, which is now LeTourneau University.

     In 1951 he founded Tournata, a colony in Liberia, Africa.  Its purpose was to teach natives to use earth-moving equipment to clear land and raise crops.  It was also a strong Christian community.
     In 1953 he sold his Earthmoving Division including all patents to Westinghouse Air Brake, with the agreement that he would stay out of the earth-moving business for five years.  The factories in Peoria, Toccoa and Rydalmere were part of this sale.  He kept the factories in Vicksburg and Longview and continued to build equipment not related to earthmoving.
     In 1954 he also got into the off-shore oil well drilling business by designing and building the first mobile off-shore jack-up rig.  This rig, named the Scorpion, was sold to the Zapata Oil Company whose president was George H.W. Bush.
     He finished his earthly journey in 1969, after complications from a stroke.
     The Scraper model you see was built between 1939-1945, and likely was built at the LeTourneau factory in Stockton.  This model was built to be displayed in court for a patent dispute involving the apron.  It is a scale model of a LeTourneau Model B Carryall.


The Early Ford V8 Club donation of $4,000 to the Children’s Hospital on Thursday, May 3rd.  Accepting is Mari Osborne, the OSF Fund Officer, with club members; Steve Swingle, Mary Kamp, Pat Swingle, Jerry Haven, Becky Haven, Ken Sutton presenting the donation. 

Wheel’s O'Time 
Early Ford V8 Club Room

Vehicles on display for May 2018

Richard Cleer - Ford Bronco

Marshal Adams - 1950 Truck

Joe Kamp - 1932 Roadster Truck

                                                          Club Meeting - March 15, 2018 - 7pm
                                                         Alpha Park Public Library Building                       

                                                                    3527 S Airport Road
                                                                       Peoria, IL 61607

Send your pictures and stories for the Early Ford V8 Club of Peoria newsletter 


                                                       From President’s Desk

Finally, we are seeing some warm weather, but it seems we did miss spring!  The cruise-ins have started.  For a good list of cruise-ins, I use Central Illinois Cruisers (, Rick’s list ( and 

The Early Ford V8 Grand National Meet is next month (June 11-15) in Dearborn, Michigan. Several of our members are planning on attending.  For more information go to 

On May 3rd, several of us met with Mari Osborne, the OSF Children’s Hospital Fund Officer and presented her with a $4,000 check from the Early Ford V8 Club of Peoria.  Each year, Mari gives us the opportunity of specifying where we want the money to go.  Last year we specified the Neonatal area of the hospital.  This year we chose to donate to a new program called the John and Annette Heller Learning for Living Center at the Hospital.  This Living Center will offer services and support to help kids with cancer complete their educations, develop meaningful relationships, grow into adulthood and lead full and fulfilling lives.  Check out the group photo in the newsletter.

The Ford Room at the Wheel’s O’Time is up and operating.  Thanks to our members who helped with getting the room ready for another season.  There are still a few open dates for volunteers in May.  For those of you who have not been to the Wheels O’Time this season, I highly recommend stopping by and checking out the Steel House.  It turned out fantastic.

I was working at the Ford Room on Saturday, May 5th.  This is the day when the Ford Contour Enthusiast Group came through the Wheels O’Time.  There were approximately 25 – 30 members at the Museum. This is a National organization and many of the attendees were from out of state.  I had some great conversations with the members.Finally, we are seeing some warm weather, but it seems we did miss spring!  The cruise-ins have started.  For a good list of cruise-ins, I use Central Illinois Cruisers (, Rick’s list ( and

Kenn Sutton

Wheels O’Time Museum
PO Box 9636
1710 West Woodside Drive
Dunlap, IL 61525
Phone: 309-243-9020E-mail:

Members Meandering

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