| November/December 1986

Lest we forget, steam made all the difference in taking agriculture out of the old days into a modern world in which saving of labor enabled farmers to plant and harvest far more acreage than they ever could have before.

'Marvels of Agriculture' is a chapter in a book titled Marvels of the New West, which was copyrighted in 1887, nearly a hundred years ago. It was written by William M. Thayer and published by the Henry Bill Publishing Co., Norwich, Connecticut.

The book deals with other 'marvels' as well, but we're centering on the one about farming. We like the illustrations, some of which accompany this article.

Thayer's prose put emphasis on the great difference between farming in the New West and the Old East. He said Easterners could just not comprehend the vast size of farms in the West, and told a series of good yarns to prove his point.

He quoted a Dakota man talking to a group, who said: 'I've seen a man on one of our big farms start out in the spring, and plough a straight furrow until fall, then he turned around and harvested back.'

A listener asked, 'Carry his grub with him?' and the narrator replied, 'No, sir. They follow him up with a steam hotel and have relays of men to change plows for him. We have some big farms up there, gentlemen. A friend of mine owned a farm on which he had to give a mortgage, and I pledge you my word the mortgage was due on one end before they could get it on record at the other. You see it was laid off in counties.'