As early as 1939, the planning stage was in the works for the 401 Highway, but the Second World War delayed construction until the mid-1940s.
Construction ramped up in the mid-1950s with the innovations in earthmoving equipment. Larger capacity and faster was the motto. The 401 was built in stages until the 820 km length ran from Windsor to Quebec. It remains the busiest highway in North America.
Working on Highway 401 East of Oshawa, Ontario in the summer of 1957 saw Hi-Way Construction Ltd. and owned by Bill Adams, was based in Simcoe, Ontario. They were completing an earthmoving contract using a fleet of LeTourneau C-Pull and D-Pull motor scrapers as well as Caterpillar D8’s & pull scrapers along with D9 push tractors.
Pictured here is a Caterpillar D8 14A Series bulldozer pulling a converted LeTourneau 11.5 cubic-metre scraper during a cut and fill operation on the 401 right of way.
Some 3,500 of the 155 hp 14A Series Cat D8s were produced in Caterpillar’s main plant in Peoria, Illinois in 1955 and 1956.
The operator handling this Cat and scraper was Bill Knight of Langton, Ontario. Bill, along with son David, went on to form their own grading and excavation company in Southwest Ontario.
The Historical Construction Equipment Association (HCEA Canada) 2023 events ‘Wheels & Tracks in Motion’ held in June and the ‘Last Blast’ in October. Both events are held at the Simcoe County Museum.
To see more than 60 restored pieces of vintage construction equipment in action be sure to attend. HCEA Canada is a proud Heritage Partner of the Simcoe County Museum. visit hceacanada.org for updates.