History of the Fresno Scraper
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Dusy sold his half interest in the scraper to Porteous for $5,000, and when McCall died a year later, his son also sold his half to Porteous, for $1,000. Porteous also purchased the rights to another scraper patented by William Deidrick and combined the elements of it and the Dusy-McCall machine, along with his own improvements, to create the new 'Fresno' scraper.
The 'Fresno,' named after the town in which it first was built, came in 3-1/2-, 4- and 5-foot widths, with the 5-foot model being the most popular. A 5-foot Fresno was pulled by four good horses or mules, and used for leveling fields for irrigation as well as on dam and highway construction projects all over the world.
Allhands reported that a single Fresno had been known to move as much as 225 cubic yards of dirt in one long day.
In the 1994 book First Highways of America by John L. Butler, a South Dakota road foreman named Louis J. Jensen described using a Fresno.
Jensen was building a road in the fall of 1912 in South Dakota. He described how he started with a spade, shoveling out a trail along the side of the hill until it was wide enough for one horse, pulling a left-hand plow, to walk.
He wrote his equipment 'consisted of walking plows pulled by two horses, Fresnos pulled by four horses and a road grader pulled by four horses.' Jensen did not say how long the road was but noted it was completed in August 1913.
Another account, from an Internet piece by Fred Gibson, tells of Gibson's father's experience with a Fresno. He was working at a lime pit, driving a team of mules pulling one of the Fresno scrapers. They moved lime from the pit to a hopper, where it was loaded into Model T Ford dump trucks.
The Fresno had a long handle on it to control the loading and unloading, and if it hit a rock, the handle would swing sideways. The operator in this story reportedly got a couple of broken ribs when the swinging handle swatted him.
Several different manufacturers, including the Galion Iron works of Galion, Ohio, and J.D. Adams & Co. of Indianapolis, built Fresno scrapers, which were used on construction jobs well into the 1930s, when motorized graders and pans took over most earthmoving duties.
Many farmers continued to use the Fresno around the farm long after the contractors abandoned them, and many old Fresnos are probably still parked in fence rows and scrap piles, although one hardly ever appears at a show. FC
Sam Moore became interested in agricultural machinery while growing up on a farm in Western Pennsylvania. Today he lives in Salem, Ohio, and collects antique tractors, implements and related items.
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