Ariens Company has renovated its Museum in Brillion, Wis. to include a new display dedicated to the Gravely brand of professional outdoor power equipment, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the original “Gravely Motor Plow” patent awarded in 1916. The newly renovated space includes 3,000 square feet of display area filled with refurbished vintage equipment, historical wall murals and memorabilia that provide a glimpse into the company’s 100-year history.
“It’s important for us to tell the story of this iconic brand and the man who had a vision for improving upon the laborious “horse and plow” method of tackling work on the farm at that time,” says Dan Ariens, Chairman and CEO of Ariens Company, producer of the Gravely brand of equipment. “Ben Gravely received more than 60 patents in his lifetime and we continue to honor his legacy of innovation today in the products we design for professional landscape contractors.”
The central feature of the new display is a replica of the red-brick façade and entryway to the original Gravely factory built in 1922 in Dunbar, W.Va. (photos of both attached). Visitors pass through the “plant” door to view several unique items and historical wall murals of the inside of the factory in the early 1900s.
On display are several milestone products from the company’s history including a working replica of Ben Gravely’s original “Motor Plow” built by local metal artist, Paul Kaufmann of Manitowoc, Wis. (photo attached).
“We searched but we could not locate an original motor plow,” says Mel Edinger, Museum Curator Extraordinaire, who works with other members of the museum team to track down and purchase vintage equipment. “We were able to get the blueprint from the U.S. Patent Office, and Paul used the print to create a working model.”
The Gravely Motor Plow quickly gave way to what would become the brand’s signature product for many years, the Gravely Two-Wheel Tractor. Commercial farmers and home gardeners could purchase a number of attachments for the tractor to meet their specific needs, making two-wheel tractor one of the most versatile and compact machines in the history of outdoor power equipment. Over the course of many years, more than 40 attachments were offered for the tractor, including tillers, cultivators, sickle mowers, reel mowers, snowthrowers, chainsaws, brushes, roofing scrapers, post hole diggers, and dozer blades.
Other Gravely products on display in the museum include:
- Several models of the Gravely two-wheel tractor (1937-2004) and the many attachments that fit the machine.
- Gravely Clean Cut mower (1960); the first attempt at a Gravely riding mower.
- Gravely Westchester mower (1964); an out-front mower produced as part of Studebaker Packard Corp.
- GMT 9000 tractor (1977); the first Gravely commercial four-wheel tractor for grounds maintenance.
Ariens Company acquired the company in 1982. Prior to the acquisition, the ownership of the Gravely brand changed hands several times over its history. Studebaker Packard Corp., McGraw Edison, and Cooper Industries, all managed the Gravely brand at one time.
The Ariens Company Museum opened in 2003 and is staffed by Ariens Company retirees who organize displays, refurbish vintage equipment and serve as tour guides. The Museum, including the new Gravely display, is open to the public upon request. Visit www.arienco.com for more information, or to schedule a visit.