Milestones Powered by Cat® Equipment: Los Angeles Aqueduct

Milestones Powered by Cat® Equipment: Los Angeles Aqueduct

Milestones Powered by Cat® Equipment:


The Los Angeles Aqueduct was constructed during 1908-1913 to transport water via a concrete-lined tunnel from the Owens River to Los Angeles, California. The Caterpillar tractors hauled rock, cement, supplies and other machinery from the railroad to the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

Loads weighed as much as 50 tons and the machines traveled up to four miles per hour. The hauls ranged from 4 to 12 miles long through deep sands and up grades from 10 to 30 percent. A report from just one section of the construction project showed that 14 Caterpillar tractors hauled materials a total of 26,242 miles at an average of 20 cents per mile. Average costs per mile for hauls by teams of animals on the project averaged from 40 to 80 cents, demonstrating the significant cost savings of using the new Caterpillar Tractor.

Twenty-seven of the first 100 Holt Caterpillar track-type tractors went to work on the Los Angeles Aqueduct Project, which provided a good proving ground for these machines. Because of contract deadlines, Holt's engineers were forced to quickly find solutions to mechanical problems. From this experience came solutions and technical improvements such as all-steel construction, three-speed transmissions, better spring suspension systems, better clutches and strengthened tractor parts.

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A gasoline-powered Holt Caterpillar 40 Tractor hauls supplies through the Mojave Desert.