Engines of the Museum

We’ve been collecting engines for quite some time now. Before electricity, you had a choice of wind power, hand or foot power, animal on a treadmill power, steam engine flat belt power, or early gas or kerosene engines of various horsepower (first invented in the 1870’s) to help you get your chores done.
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A particularly onerous weekly job was washing clothes. The family’s clothes cleaner, usually the lady of the house, had to work hard to keep the family in fit clothes. There were scrub boards, hand-cranked washing machines, or cone-shaped agitators that looked a bit like a bathroom plunger. They were all hard and back-breaking work. Then, finally, in 1914, small gas-powered engines were invented to do the chore. A woman’s life was changed profoundly. It was all so much easier, and really quite liberating. The most popular was Maytag one or two-cylinder engines. It would turn a belt that would run the washer. What a relief.
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Or simply pumping water for cooking or once a week baths was either really hard work or relied on the wind to turn the windmill. And the wind blowing was not really very reliable. An engine made washing anytime much easier, and much more on-demand. Most homes required the burning of several cords of wood a year just to stay warm, and more was used for cooking. Cutting firewood was a huge amount of hand labor with a hand saw or axe, it was much easier with a powered saw. Grinding grain by hand to make flour, ditto. Pumping oil from the ground could not happen without engine power. The list goes on and on. Life in America became so much easier with the invention of engines. Their importance can hardly be estimated.
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The museum has all these types of engines. They are on display “for sale” at the feed mill. Just as they would have been 120 years ago. They are interesting to look at, and make an interesting picture to take and keep.
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P.S. We also have a very large gathering and display of all eras, and kinds, of washing machines, in the top of the main barn. They are well worth the look.
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