Nebraska Museum Preserves Sugar Beet and Dry Bean History
High plains heritage
Jack Preston, museum historian and area rancher, with a horse-drawn wagon once used to haul sugar beets from the field.
Built by Chester B. Brown around 1923, this horse-drawn bean sled was pulled to the field on runners, then flipped over to allow the hand-forged knives to cut two rows of beans. Harvested beans were then loaded on a wagon and hauled to a bean huller.
Introduced in 1936, the Allis-Chalmers Model 66 all-crop harvester helped dry bean growers make the transition from horsepower to tractor power.
Great Western Sugar played a role in introducing new beet equipment – such as this 1950s-vintage Dixie beet thinner – to area growers.
This walking beet and peanut thinner, drawn by a 2-horse hitch, used cutouts in the revolving discs to thin beet seedlings in each row.
This horse-drawn walking beet lifter lifted the beets from the soil. Workers then pulled the beets loose, chopped the tops with a machete-like beet knife and tossed them in rows or piles.
The Mitchell sugar factory was one of six factories built by Great Western Sugar in western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming. Constructed in 1920, it closed in the 1990s.
An early McCormick-Deering HM-1 beet harvester mounted on a Farmall M.
This Sishc beet loader picked up a windrow of beets and loaded them into a truck or wagon.
This vintage planter was used to plant sugar beets and dry beans.
The Wiard Universal bean harvester cut two rows of dry beans about 2 inches below the surface, then used the cleaners mounted at the rear to gather the cut beans into a single windrow.