Advertisements for internal combustion engines, commonly called gas engines, appeared regularly in farm magazines in the mid-1890s. By the century's turn, one hundred US companies produced stationary or portable gas engines for farmers. Fifteen years later, the number of gas engines on farms had exploded to one million. The skills gained by hundreds of thousands of farmers with these engines facilitated the rapid adoption of the automobile on farms and the more gradual adoption of the tractor. Yet the use of such engines has received scant attention. This paper examines the farm demand for stationary power and compares alternative power sources in 1895. It traces the development of the market for farm gas engines and its interaction with the markets for automobiles and tractors. It then presents evidence from magazines to show how farmers became engine mechanics and facilitated the adoption of automobiles and tractors across rural America.

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