By Billy Horner
The Balderson family proved that big ideas could come from little hamlets. In the 1870s, they started a blacksmith shop in tiny Louisville, Kansas, a community with a current population of about 130 people east of Manhattan, the home of Kansas State University.
By the 1930s, the Balderson’s worked with the Kansas Highway Department to fix and improve existing road machinery and created supersized dozer blades. A Caterpillar dealer in Topeka first marketed the Balderson snowplow and other attachment lines, including their Bowldozer.
The Balderson Bowldozer became a Caterpillar-approved product, which could handle high volumes of light material such as coal, wood chips, and loose soil, while reducing side spills. Around the late 1960s, Balderson marketed their attachments to the coal, lumber, landfill, and construction industries.
The rear wall of the attachment was like a straight blade with a scraper-type cutting edge at the bottom. The sideboards extended forward from 4.5-to-7 feet and were held rigid by a beam and cutting edge connecting the lower front corners. The machine's hydraulic cylinders controlled the overall attachment. When the operator loaded the bowl to capacity, they could push a large amount of material over a long distance without losing any out the sides.
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This article originally appeared in the bimonthly Arizona Contractor & Community magazine, May/Jun 2023 issue, Vol. 12, No. 3.