Collecting Hay Carriers and Cast Iron Seats

Texas man reconnects with the past, builds lasting friendships through collecting hay carriers and other old iron.

| October 2018

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    Dennis Krzyzowski with pieces from his collection of cast iron implement seats.
    Photo by Sara Jordan-Heintz
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    This J-car style hay carrier, featuring original paint, was produced by F.E. Myers and Bro., Ashland, Ohio.
    Photo by Sara Jordan-Heintz
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    A Tiger drill box in fine original condition.
    Photo by Sara Jordan-Heintz
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    This group of hay carriers in Dennis’ display includes an all-wood carrier made by Louden Mfg., Fairfield, Iowa.
    Photo by Sara Jordan-Heintz
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    This hard-to-find Louden wood-beam, eight-wheel carrier features nice original paint.
    Photo by Sara Jordan-Heintz
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    A Louden wood-beam carrier retrieved from an Iowa barn that was being torn down.
    Photo by Sara Jordan-Heintz
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    This Hunt, Helm, Ferris & Co. wood-beam carrier gleams in its original paint. Note the “farmer’s fix” on the beam wheel. Dennis polished the repaired area to showcase the farmer’s resourcefulness.
    Photo by Sara Jordan-Heintz
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    Dennis got these pieces from a friend in Iowa. The two men share a passion for old iron – and baseball. Dennis roots for the Detroit Tigers; his buddy is a St. Louis Cardinals fan.
    Photo by Sara Jordan-Heintz
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    Dennis is particularly fond of these carriers made by Eagle Mfg. Co., Appleton, Wis. For the Air Force veteran, they are a nod to his military service, “since the Air Force names their fighter jets after birds of prey.” They are displayed with some of the awards he earned during his military career.
    Photo by Sara Jordan-Heintz
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    Industrial artistry of the past is showcased in Dennis’ home office display.
    Photo by Sara Jordan-Heintz
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    “Getting into this hobby of collecting has enabled me to make friends with quite a few people,” Dennis says. “Building those relationships while hunting for these rusty treasures means more to me than any of the pieces I have acquired over the years.” Left to right: Bill Anderson, Dennis and Al Olvera.
    Photo by Sara Jordan-Heintz

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For Dennis Krzyzowski, collecting antique hay carriers and implement seats isn't just a rustic hobby fit for a history buff, but rather a conduit to a simpler, pleasant time in his youth.

"I don't have a huge background in farming," he says. "I'm originally from the Detroit [Michigan] area. I kind of bounced around when I was growing up, and the childhood memories I have that were the best actually related to farming – hauling hay and things of that nature – and that's what attracted me to the hay carriers at first."

Today, at his home just outside San Antonio, Texas, Dennis has built a collection of about 150 hay carriers (also known as hay trolleys). "I have the largest collection of hay carriers in Texas," he says. "The wooden carriers were the ones first produced – in the late 1860s and early 1870s – and then they moved on to cast iron carriers that ran on wooden beams, and then on steel rails, in the early 1900s.

"You look at something as simple as a hay carrier, and look at the mechanics of it, and how they were engineered, and it's fun. I'll usually tear them down and clean them up, and you get to see how they actually work," he says. "It's also interesting to look up old patent drawings and research old materials on the pieces."



First-hand experience

As a high school student, Dennis lived with a farm family in Honey Grove, Texas, where he had his first experience working on a John Deere tractor. But after an incident where Dennis plowed the wrong field, his foster dad decided the youth needed learn the lay of the land the old-fashioned way.

"I met him back at the barn," Dennis recalls. "He gave me a hoe and a bucket of water, and for the next few months I went to every field he had and hoed sunflowers out. That quickly taught me what every field's name was."