Appreciated by tractor enthusiasts for their durability, Gravely Tractors were invented by photographer Benjamin Franklin Gravely, born near Martinsville, Va. in 1876. Gravely secured 65 patents in his lifetime, according to the Gravely website, most of them for farm implements.
Gravely conceived of his tractor as an improvement on the push plow for gardening and lawn maintenance. The first Gravely tractor was a motorized push-by-hand plow, mounted on a tractor wheel with belts and using an Indian motorcycle engine.
Gravely patented his Gravely Model D garden tractor in 1916 and in 1922 opened a factory in Dunbar, W.Va. for their production. The Model D was a 2 1/2-horsepower tractor, and Gravely soon began producing attachments to multiply its uses, including a lawn roller, a sickle mower and a cultivator.
In 1935 the Gravely company released its second model, the two-wheeled Model L. The new model boasted the same attachments as the earlier model and could pull five horsepower. Its ability to operate two 25-inch gang mowers made it the premier tractor for institutional use.
Gravely entered the four-wheel tractor market in 1964. It was purchased by Ariens in 1982 and Gravely based designs were discontinued about 2002. The name is still used on a line of commercial garden equipment. The Gravely Tractor Club of America (originally the Model D & L Gravely Network) was formed in 1966.