Although manure-handling equipment is often poorly maintained, a Pennsylvania agriculture museum has an extermely well-preserved manure spreader dating from the 1920s.
Manure management on any livestock farm is a hard, smelly, unpleasant but very necessary business. The domesticated dung really piles up when animals are confined for any length of time, and removing it is a never-ending chore. Before the age of skid-loaders and automated scraping systems, or even self-flushing gutters, our ancestors were faced with shoveling or forking dung into small baskets, which were carried to the field and dumped. Baskets gave way to small carts, which eventually gave way to wagons, which eventually gave way to the dedicated manure spreader wagons still in use today. As anyone who has handled the stuff knows, the caustic nature of that dank detritus tends to shorten the life span of manure-handling equipment to relatively few years.
That the Pasto Ag Museum's 85-year-old Galloway wagon-box attachment spreader and matched running gear survived at all is pretty amazing. That it survived in such beautiful original condition is virtually a miracle. Tools associated with manure handling didn't often receive the necessary cleaning and care other implements did, even though they really needed it more.
"The spreader was purchased new in 1920," explains Pasto Ag Museum Curator Dr. Darwin G. Braund as he points out a small patch of at least 65-year-old cow manure on its end gate. "It was in steady use until the early 1940s when it was put in a barn while the boys were off to war." After the war, the old spreader was replaced with a more modern version — but the Galloway was left under cover.
The 50- to 60-bushel Galloway spreader was manufactured in Waterloo, Iowa, and sold complete in 1920 for $76.50. It featured a removable spreader box that was easily lifted off the running gear so it could be used for other things. The spreader mechanism was powered from the rear wheels through chains that were driven by iron cogs U-bolted to the wheels' spokes. The right wheel drove the conveyer chain that moved manure to the rear of the wagon. The left wheel powered the beater, which required a bit more energy, so it was equipped with removable lug clamps to keep it from slipping. When the running gear was used for other, less-sloppy kinds of work, the clamps were removed.
The museum's Galloway spreader was completely disassembled and carefully cleaned in December 1999 by Braund and Joe Shafranich, and the parts were oiled as the implement was reassembled. The original green paint and white stenciling on the box, and red paint on the running gear, are all in excellent condition. Although the spreader is completely functional, Braund doesn't expect it to serve in its original capacity ever again. "There's no reason it won't still be here in another 85 years," he says with a smile. FC