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Alan C.Horsedrawn Plows

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Ohio workshop to focus on farm tools

EARTHWORKS STATE MEMORIAL, NEWARK, OHIO

The uses and histories of antique hand tools, including axes, flails and grain cradles, and such early horse-drawn farm implements as plows, cultivators and Cyrus McCormick's reaper, will be the focus of a workshop set for July 16 and 17 in Newark, Ohio.

Sponsored by the Ohio Historical Society and held at the Newark, Ohio, Earthworks State Memorial, the event is called 'Ohio's Agriculture is History!' It will explore changes in agriculture from the frontier era through the introduction of the gasoline tractor, and include some hands-on activities with antique hand tools.

The focus will be on Ohio as one of the early leaders in agricultural innovation in the United States; links between early U.S. farm tools and techniques and Europe, and early American Indian farming techniques also will be explored.

Jim Gingery, a workshop organizer, notes that tremendous changes in how farm work was performed occurred as farmers progressed from the hand-powered era through the horse-powered, steam and eventually the gasoline tractor eras.

Influences that tool technology of the times had on barn building will be explored, along with barn construction styles, including U.S. timber and plank framing methods, ethnic elements and the influence of the dairy industry. Additionally, information on companies that became giants in the U.S. barn-building business, including Sears, Roebuck and Co.; Jamesway and Louden, will be offered.

The evolution of such agricultural implements as the plow, including a comparison of some Ohio-made horse-drawn plows and a look at the success of the Oliver chilled plow, will be discussed. Among the Ohio plows to be examined at the workshop will be a Bucher and Gibbs walking plow, which has a unique hitch arrangement called the Dial Clevis that allowed the horse to walk in the furrow. The special hitch could be ordered for an additional charge to replace the conventional hitch, and the plow also came with a brace that served as a holder for a wrench in the event the farmer needed to make adjustments in the field.

Business strategies during this period of cut-throat competition also will be discussed, with information focusing on such surviving companies as Deere, McCormick and Oliver, all of which became major contenders in the national agricultural implement industry of the early- to mid-1900s. Cyrus McCormick's 'invention' of the reaper and the competition he faced that led to lawsuits and fights over patent rights will be included, as will the importance of the horse (particularly imported, purebred Belgian draft horses) as the principle power on the farm before steam and gasoline tractors arrived.

The influence of steam power on the size of farm implements such as the thresher also will be explored, and a 'panorama' of technology from a thresher driven by a one- to two-horse treadmill to one driven by a 100 hp steam locomotive will be on display to help show how far U.S. agriculture advanced in less than 200 years.

- For more information on the workshop, for which a $50 fee is charged, write 'Ohio's Agriculture is History!' workshop, 99 Cooper Ave., Newark, OH 43055; (800) 600-7174 or (740) 344-1920; e-mail: moundbuilders@cgate.net