Cooper digger

Cooper digger of 1900. Probably the first type to be completely constructed by Coopers in quantity

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A real steam engine enthusiast could surely improve his knowledge by reading Colin Tyler's, 'Digging by Steam.' Tyler says that despite all that has been written and the growth of the steam engine hobby, steam as it relates to digging has been almost ignored.

The text of the book reflects a true knowledge of the subject and shows evidence of alot of 'digging' on the author's part. What makes the book truly special, however, are the fine illustrations with their descriptive captions.

In a book of 177 pages, including a Foreward and an Index, there are 110 illustrations which illuminate the text and give graphic evidence of what the author is saying.

Tyler takes particular pleasure in having been able to assemble these photographs and engravings and line drawings. He believes he has gathered together the largest number on the subject ever to appear in one place.

To list all the pictures would be impossible in this space, but they include walking diggers, broadside diggers, models, traction engines, and cultivators.

If you are a student of steam engine history and haven't read much about steam-powered agriculture in the 19th and 20th centuries you may well want to read 'Digging by Steam.' You will learn about the reasons for using steam power for digging, along with some of the financial and technical problems involved.

A Foreward by John Haining, who was co-author of 'Plowing by Steam,' sums up the value of this book. He says that Tyler's 'conscientious researching into the subject has enabled him to record for posterity....a chapter in agricultural history that might well have remained closed and even eventually lost forever.'

If you want information about the role played by farmers in the development of America, read 'WHEREBY WE THRIVE: A History of American Farming, 1607-1972.'

The book is divided into five time eras: 1607-1783, 1783-1861, 1861-1914, 1914-1945, and 1945-1972.

Under each time division three ideas are explored: Land, Markets, and Technology and Science.

This book by John Schlebecker, who is curator of Agriculture and Mining of the Smithsonian Institution, is logically arranged, well written and the product of thorough research.

The history books we studied in school dealt mostly with wars, economic cycles and the lives of supposedly great men.

Schlebecker deals with the problems and rewards of making a living from the soil, and with the interaction of agriculture and other segments of society. Farming is basic. We all need food and raiment. If one's worth is measured by one's contribution to meeting the needs of others then the farmer is history's true heroic figure.

'WHEREBY WE THRIVE' would be a fine textbook for an agricultural course and at the same time is good reading for someone who simply wants to know more about the history of agriculture in America. We were particularly fascinated by the part played by farmers in pre-revolutionary days and during the Revolutionary War.


Is steam mentioned? It certainly is. A history of farming would be incomplete without a mention of the steam engine. We won't pretend that the book is mostly about steam, but Iron Men readers may be assured that the subject is covered. The role of steam on the farm, in shipping by rail and water, and in manufacturing is explained.

The book ties the elements of history and society together. It shows how farms, factories, transportation, economics, wars, politics and government are all interrelated parts of the same process. What affects one affects the rest.


Government land policies, western movement of farmers, invention and improvement of implements, food processing and preservation, population shifts, changing markets and price supports are among the many subjects studied in this fact-filled book.

We came away from our reading with a greater knowledge and appreciation of the farmer. We have a better understanding of his part in the growth of the nation in war and peace. We see how farming has changed from the days of the early settlers to the huge agricultural businesses of today. Although techniques and methods have changed, the basic goal of the commercial farmer is the same now as it has been-to help feed others and to make a living doing it.

We think that steam engine hobbyists will find sections of this book quite interesting. For those who would like to see the whole sweeps of American agriculture through 365 years, Schlebecker's 'WHEREBY WE THRIVE' is a must.