Looking back at the first Grove crane

09 June 2020

The first crane designed by John L. Grove sits in a makeshift museum at the Manitowoc facility in Shady Grove, PA. 

At the Manitowoc crane manufacturing facility in Shady Grove, PA, there is a small white building that sits off the beaten path from the huge buildings where cranes roll from one assembly line to the other.

grove 3

Grove Crane #3 was a predecessor to the modern-day rough terrain crane.

The building is actually an antique, and it serves as a museum of sorts. It is the actual garage where Grove Manufacturing Company built its first cranes. Housed in the building is the Grove Crane #3, an interesting looking machine that was the predecessor of the modern-day rough terrain crane.

Grove Manufacturing was started in 1947 by John Landis Grove. He and his brother Dwight Grove and Wayne Nicarry built farm wagons. Needing a way to lift and move the steel used to make the wagons, John designed a rudimentary rubber-tired crane. In time he would produce the first mobile hydraulic industrial cranes, and Grove went from a farm machine company to a crane company.

By 1967 the company had grown exponentially with more than 1,000 employees and producing a range of rough terrain and truck cranes. Walter Kidde Company purchased Grove Industries and John Grove left the company in 1968.

He would go on to start another company known as Condor industries. In 1973 Condor Industries was renamed JLG Industries, after the initials of John L. Grove. The company produced aerial work platforms and scissor lifts. Today JLG is a part of the Oshkosh Corporation.


The Grove RT-58 is one of the best-selling rough terrain cranes of all time. JJ Curran Crane still has a Grove RT-58 in its fleet. It was purchased new in 1962.

Cab down design

But back to the crane company, Grove Industries produced cranes with legendary status. The Grove RT-58 is one of those machines.

First produced in 1960, the crane was in production until 1978. The 14-ton machine featured a cab down design and had a 24 to 60-foot three-section telescopic main boom and an optional 20-foot stowaway jib. According to cranemarket.com, the crane was typically powered by a Detroit Diesel 127 HP 4-53N engine, but it was also produced with a Ford 300, GM 4-53N and a Cummins V-378-C155 powering the crane. It featured a power shift transmission with six speeds forward and reverse. Hi-Lo range selection automatically shifted between 4-wheel drive and 2-wheel drive.

JJ Curran Crane Company still has a Grove RT-58 in its fleet. Purchased new in 1962, the crane has “tremendous historical and emotional value” to the company, according to Jeff Curran, son of JJ Curran and co-owner and CFO.

John L. Grove

John L. Grove, Founder, Grove Industries

Back in 1962, JJ Curran was a young entrepreneur starting a crane company in Detroit, MI. His first purchase was the Grove RT-58, and more than 60 years later, the crane is still working.

“This RT-58 was built to last,” said Curran, co-owner and CFO. “It’s a simple tool that is easy to operate and we always find work for it. The crane is very mobile and can fit into tight spaces, and it is great for pick-and-carry operations. It is still generating revenue 60 years later.”

RT-58s and later versions of this crane are still for sale on used crane websites all over the internet.

Manitowoc Cranes purchased Grove Industries and its subsidiary National Crane in 2002. Today Manitowoc’s Grove line includes rough terrains, all terrains and truck cranes.


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