This home movie from 1962 captures R. G. LeTourneau demonstrating the TC-497 Overland Train Mark II developed by his company, R.G. LeTourneau, Inc., to military officials in Longview. Essentially a chain of oversized semi-trailer trucks, the train could maneuver over almost any terrain, allowing it to operate in areas without local road or rail systems. The Army contracted LeTourneau for the manufacturing of several experimental overland trains, including the Mark II. All were eventually abandoned. Capable of growing to any length, the Mark II remains the longest off-road vehicle in the world.
Robert Gilmore LeTourneau was born on November 30, 1888 in Richford, Vermont. An inventor and entrepreneur, he established R.G. LeTourneau, Inc., an earthmoving equipment manufacturing company, in California in 1929. The business expanded throughout the 1930s and 1940s, opening factories in locations including Longview, Texas. The Longview factory ultimately became the company's headquarters. Securing nearly 300 patents, LeTourneau was responsible for the invention and development of numerous earthmoving machines and manufacturing processes, from the industry's use of rubber tires to the electric wheel drive system. In 1966, LeTourneau's son Richard took over the presidency of the company, now known as LeTourneau Technologies.
In addition to his work as an equipment engineer and manufacturer, LeTourneau was also a devout Christian and a philanthropist. In 1946, he and his wife Evelyn founded the LeTourneau Technical Institute in Longview to provide technical and mechanical training as well as classroom instruction. The institution became LeTourneau College in 1961 and LeTourneau University in 1989. The school now offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs, including engineering, aeronautics, business, education, and nursing.
R. G. LeTourneau passed away on June 1, 1969 after suffering a severe stroke. He was 80 years old.