History of Excavators

History of Excavators
on June 04, 2024

Can you imagine building roads, without the use of heavy equipment? Especially excavators? In this fast paced society it is easy to forget how much hard-work and brilliance went into this convenient way of construction and innovation.

Let’s “dig” into the history of the very first excavators!


Starting with William Otis' steam shovel, originally created to build the Western Railroad in Massachusetts.
— Sir W.G. Armstrong & Company in England invented the first 'hydraulic' (water) excavator and used it to build the Hull docks in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England.
— Kilgore machine company built the first fully hydraulic excavator using steam cylinders without cables or chains.
— Italian brothers Mario and Carlo designed the prototype of the first mass produced hydraulic excavator.
— French company Sekem obtained a patent and from here production started Priestman in England, Mitsubishi in Japan, Drott in America and Tusa in Spain.
— The Yumbo Excavator obtained worldwide recognition.
— Hitachi Construction Machinery began production on the UH Series of Excavators.
— Leemar Excavator Components was founded in Parksville, BC to serve the Vancouver Island Logging Industry as a manufacturer of specialized logging and road building equipment.
— HanDok Hydraulic aftermarket pump & motor company founded in Korea as a hydraulic equipment repair shop.
— John Deere & Hitachi established a joint venture.
— Leemar Excavator Components - Operates Under New Ownership and maintains its dedication in supporting customers all over the world.
— Termination of the joint venture in between John Deere & Hitachi after 33 years.

Leemar has served Vancouver Island heavy equipment businesses since 1986 and as industry trends evolved and the need for a reliable source for major excavator components increased, Leemar transitioned its business and aimed to be one of North America's leading John Deere and Hitachi Excavator Parts Suppliers.

Furthermore, as industry demands changed, Leemar forged long-lasting relationships with reliable aftermarket manufacturers. Effectively, the combination of used, rebuilt OEM and new aftermarket excavator parts is what has allowed Leemar to grow its excavator parts inventory to one of the largest in North America.

It seems like we are always used to have one operator hydraulic excavator and the truth is there were 140 years of development and experiment to get here! A huge THANK YOU to all of the fathers and grandfathers of excavators!

William Otis
William Otis
Sir W.G. Armstrong
Sir W.G. Armstrong