Museum trio in the Pacific Northwest preserves agricultural heritage in bountiful region
The Eastern Washington Agricultural Museum recalls the farmstead of old, housed in a modern red barn-like shed with a vintage windmill out front. In addition to display space, the facility contains a reference library, kitchen and restroom.
This 1941 John Deere Model H is equipped with Riblet square wheels. Invented by Royal N. Riblet, Spokane, Wash., and patented in 1915, the square wheels never found a market, despite claims that they would give a smoother ride with less compaction, deliver more power and minimize wear on moving parts. Shown here: owners David and Nancy Ruark.
This massive horsepower (the bull gear measures 7 feet across) once ran a stationary threshing machine, grain grinder or drag saw before being abandoned where last used in about 1900. The operator stood on a platform at the center; a hole in the center post held a whip. When the piece was formally dedicated to the Eastern Washington Agricultural Museum, 14 volunteers “powered” the sweep, taking the place of horses.
A series of manually controlled alternating gears and shafts kept this 1932 wood frame Harris Harvester level on steep hillsides, essential to efficient separator operation. Originally pulled by horses (“and it would have taken up to 33 head of horses on these hills,” David Ruark says. “Probably half the crop went to feed the horses”), the rig was later converted to tractor power.
A total of 146 buckets dangling from a 2-1/2 mile loop of steel cable made up the gravity-powered Judkins tram. Reconstruction of this tower was based on dimensions from timbers excavated at the tram site – a miracle, really, in that fire had swept the site more than once over the years. (See related article, Whitman County Wheat Harvest, Farm Collector, May 2011.)
This stamp was used to mark flour bags at a mill in nearby Pataha, Wash.
This scale model of a 1927 Case hillside combine, built by E.R. Sitton, is on loan to the Eastern Washington ag museum courtesy of Dwayne and Burlene Blankenship, Pullman, Wash. It is displayed with its 33-horse Schandoney equalizing hitch; the original Schandoney hitch was patented in 1892.
The Pataha Flour Mill.
At the Central Washington Agricultural Museum: Battered tin stencils once used to mark potato crates are part of a remarkable private collection of more than 3,000 antique tools in the museum’s Magness Room. The collection was amassed over 30 years by W.C. Magness, who donated it to the museum.
At the Central Washington Agricultural Museum: “The Bulldozer” was used to produce cleats and track pads for early tracked equipment. It was most recently used at Lindeman Crawler Tractor Mfg., Yakima, Wash.
At the Central Washington Agricultural Museum: A carrot topper run off of a tractor’s PTO. According to the piece’s donor, the device was the result of one cannery’s ban on carrot tops. The unit posed particular danger to an operator who attempted to clear a tangle of tops from sharp, moving parts.
At the Central Washington Agricultural Museum: Farmers are nothing if not resourceful, as indicated by this wooden truck wheel built during World War II, when rubber tires could be impossible to find.
At the Sherman County Historical Museum: This Boerner grain sampler was used to mix and sort laboratory grain samples.
At the Sherman County Historical Museum: Old iron in the Sherman County museum’s boneyard.
At the Sherman County Historical Museum: Illustrating one stage of the old-time wheat harvest, this display shows bags of grain moving up the elevator. The Sherman County museum draws on a vast collection of 16,000 artifacts and photographs.
At the Sherman County Historical Museum: This header box wagon dates to the early 1900s. Above right, a Fresno earth scraper; at left, a hay fork.
This 1872 Buffalo Pitts Californian separator, in very good original condition, is a crowd pleaser at the Sherman County Museum.
This vintage wood silo, flanked by a Cletrac and a silage chopper, greets visitors to the Central Washington Agricultural Museum in Union Gap, Wash. The silo was a hardware store kit.