History of Cranes

Sep 4, 2020 | Resources

Did you know that Landwehr Construction has been in business for 125 years? We began providing Minnesota and the surrounding areas with crane service beginning in the 1950s. In the last seven decades, cranes and their capabilities have certainly changed. Let’s learn a little more about their origins.



The idea for cranes dates back to 1500 BC when the ancient Mesopotamians used compound pulley systems. These pulley systems were used to lift equipment as large as an entire warship. The systems relied on manpower or donkeys, which could be considered a pitfall in itself, as the process was slow and stationary. Eventually, capstans and winches were used. As the use of gears increased, there was a natural move toward crane development. The ancient Greeks are credited with inventing cranes in 515 BC, but research shows that some of the crane types being used by the ancient Romans were more effective.


Early Cranes

Treadwheel cranes were introduced in 1225. Harbor cranes were used as early as 1244. Windlasses powered the cranes, where they were predominantly used in harbors and at mining and building sites.


Hydraulic Cranes

Not until the 15th century was hydraulic technology considered for crane use. Prior to that, cranes were hand-powered, despite the fact that hydraulic technology was being used in other areas (water wheels, irrigation systems).  Cranes were made with iron in the 19th century and quickly started utilizing steam power instead of hand-power. The hydraulic cranes of today are much more sophisticated than those in the 19th century. Specifications and materials have improved and cranes can take on larger capacities.


Modern Cranes

The cranes today are highly specialized, including railway road cranes, mobile cranes, telescopic cranes, tower cranes, rough terrain cranes, crawler cranes, and truck mounted cranes. Load capacities are high and booms extend up to hundreds of feet.


While Landwehr Construction may have started with just a few small truck cranes, we’ve certainly grown exponentially in the years since. We are happy to offer our clients a fleet of over thirty cranes, including rough terrain and all terrain cranes, and the powerhouse AC 350. Learn more about what we have to offer!