The difficult terrain of Whitman County, Wash., was managed by custom threshers and a unique tramway system during the wheat harvest
Sewing filled sacks shut.
Front view of the header. Note how the horses pull on the side of the hill. The wagon’s rear axle is on the 12-ft. side; the front is 5 ft. 2 in. Handwritten note on the back of the photo: “This ranch is the hilliest in the Palouse Country and the rancher had 320 acres of wheat and (we) thrashed 14 days including 1/2 day for oats and one day of barley, Washington 1920.”
Sacks of wheat going down the tram. A total of 128 carriers were bolted to a nearly two-mile-long endless wire cable. According to a 1904 article in Pacific Monthly, the tramway hauled about 50,000 sacks of wheat each season.
A panoramic view of the Snake River.
Rear view of 14-ft. header pushed by eight mules. Handwritten on the back: “This ranch is the roughest in the county.”
Three men (one complete with necktie) and three children (one striking the official pose) with a Holt Caterpillar Model 45 in a photo dated Aug. 20, 1920.
A view into the tramway’s top terminal. When working at full capacity 10 hours a day, the tramway transported 200 tons of wheat.
On the move in August 1920: a Holt Caterpillar Model 45 pulling what appears to be a New Russell thresher. The Stockton Holt Caterpillar 45 was manufactured from 1915 to 1921.
Controlling the brake in the upper tramway terminal, from a 1904 issue of Pacific Monthly. The upper terminal was 1,700 feet above the river.
Four to eight mules were used to haul a load to the warehouse. Sacks of grain were fully exposed to the elements until they were hauled to storage.
What appears to be a New Russell thresher with a Byron Jackson self-feeder.
Scene on the bluffs of the Snake River showing the carrying towers and buckets of the tramway, one ascending, one descending. From a 1904 issue of Pacific Monthly. Distance between the two terminals was about 5,150 feet.
Headers at close range. Note the driver’s stance, leaning into the steep hillside.
The crew takes a break atop a mound of bagged grain. Each filled sack was valued at $5 (roughly $55 today). According to a notation on the back of one photo, the farmer’s August 1920 harvest yielded more than 7,000 sacks of grain.
The Holt Caterpillar Model 45 was manufactured by both of the company’s factories (located in Peoria, Ill., and Stockton, Calif.). The Stockton machines differed slightly, most noticeably in the radiator. After the war, Stockton offered an orchard version with a lower profile. The Stockton Model 45 Caterpillar was produced until 1922, when it was replaced by the Holt “Western Ten Ton” Caterpillar.