The Legacies of Iron County: Agriculture - The Hay Derrick

Agriculture, symbolized by the hay derrick, became the foundation of the local community. When early mining operations ceased, Iron County residents turned to sheep and cattle to provide needed trade goods. Today, the region still has a vibrant and expanding agricultural lifestyle.

Hay for livestock in a horse-driven society was as important as gasoline or electricity is today. The oldest technology for stacking hay in Iron County was the hay derrick that allowed farmers to build haystacks in their fields.

 

 

Hay derricks, usually homemade devices, consisted of a central pole rigged so that it could rotate on its base. By means of pulleys, rope, and a one-horse hookup, the loading fork could be raised and rotated over the haystack. When tripped, the hay would drop onto the stack. Men on top of the stack would arrange the hay so that it would shed water, thus the hay would cure rather than rot. Occasionally rattlesnakes might be hiding in the hay and provide a surprise for those on top of the hay pile. Stacks were built one section at a time. When one section was finished, the derrick was hitched to a horse and dragged to the next section.

The derrick in front of Frontier Homestead was donated to by local rancher Bud Bauer and relocated from his farm to the museum as an Eagle Scout project in May 2013.