Re: Snapping turtle mower
Here's a brief history somebody wrote:
Incorporated as Southern Saw Works on November 1, 1894, by then owner Isaac Boyd, the
company made circular saws for the growing Georgia lumber industry. For almost 60 years, as
lumber prospered, so did Southern Saw.
But by 1949, saw making was an industry in decline. William R. Smith, who then owned
Southern Saw, watched as green lawns replaced towering pines. Smith, seeing opportunity,
made an insightful decision to enter the lawn mower industry. He purchased the patents of
"Snappin' Turtle" mowers, one of the first rotary mowers, then being built in Florida. Actual
Georgia production began in East Point in January 1951, when 16 of the unique mowers were
shipped. By the end of 1951, a total of 3,975 mowers were manufactured and delivered
throughout the United States. Several of these first mowers are on display at the Smithsonian
Institute in Washington, DC, and the Atlanta History Museum.
In the early 1950s, lawn mowers were a "growing" business. Although the first mowers were
English-made push reel mowers, Americans took the design one step further adding newly
developed small engines to reel mowers. During the 1950s and 1960s, as lawn sizes grew from
the postage lots in the city to the half-acre or more lots of the suburbs, homeowners were
spending more of their recreation time mowing grass. Power reel mowers, though widely
available, were expensive, heavy and awkward to handle. Their open reel made safety a
On January 16, 1951, Snapper introduced its "Snappin' Turtle," the first self-propelled rotary
mower. Its smaller, lighter engine and safe, covered blade revolutionized the industry. A lower,
more compact body made with new, less expensive yet stronger materials brought the price to a
reasonable level. The rotary mower became as common as a garden spade.
As the mower business grew, the saw business waned. Soon, lawnmower manufacturing
replaced saw production in the plant. Even so, by 1954 the East Point plant could grow no
further. The decision was made to merge Southern Saw Works and the McDonough Foundry
& Machine Works and move the entire operation to McDonough in Henry County.
McDonough Foundry & Machine Works, a supplier to Southern Saw, was organized in 1946
to produce iron castings and textile machinery. The merger of the two manufacturers created a
new company known as McDonough Power Equipment.
Snapper mowers were leading a new revolution in lawn care equipment, and McDonough
Power was growing with this revolution. Innovations in power mowers and accessories, many
designed by Snapper, fueled the growth of rotary mowers and McDonough Power's line of
consumer products. In fact, Snapper owns 44 patents for innovations in safety, deck design and
As lawns got bigger and leisure time got shorter, even self-propelled walk behind mowers
couldn't cut it fast enough. So Snapper engineers designed and produced one of its most lauded
innovations, the Snapper rear engine-riding mower.