Here at Wagner Farm, we have more artifacts than we could possibly display in our museum space. Some of the current exhibits listed on this page are things you'll be able to see at the farm. We also use this page to display artifacts that don't necessarily fit our interpretive time period, or that are too delicate to have displayed. We hope you'll check back often, because our online exhibits will be updated.
This might be the artifact find of the year. A mint condition 1920's era Easy washing machine made in Syracuse, New York. This was found by the Glenview Park District's own Mike Moorman while vacationing in northern Michigan. Mike and his wife were checking out an antique mall and he noticed this washer. Because Mike knew I have been looking for an old washer for the farmhouse he called me to see if I was still interested. The poor Moormans had to lug this very heavy washer in their van for the rest of their vacation. (Mike wins the Above and Beyond Award!)
In doing a little research on the machine it seems that the company won the highest award in the kitchen exhibit during the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Powered by a 1/6 horse power motor it could agitate, spin and rise clothes. Because of its efficient design the company grew rapidly and by 1923 was called the best of the home laundry manufacturers in the world. By 1936 the company celebrated selling $100,000,000 worth of washing machines. The pinnacle of the Easy company was in 1948 when 474,831 machines were sold. The company was sold to Union Chemical and by 1963 they ceased to exist. We are currently doing some minor clean up and hope to have the machine out on the exhibit floor soon. Amazingly, we plugged it in and it still works!
Here's a fact I bet you didn't know. The first treadmill was made around 1875. Of course it wasn't meant for people but animals. When the critters would walk on the treads it would make a line shaft rotate and that could then power a belt that would be hooked up to machines like butter churns. Some treadmills were so big that they could take a team of horses that would drive threshing machines. For our outreach program in the spring we are going to focus on livestock and how they were used on a farm. To illustrate their use in supplying power we found a mint condition treadmill. I wanted to see if my dog Carly could power it but she is no Astro Jetson so it was bust.
Thanks to our friend Lloyd, we have a new project at the farm. Not so long ago our forefathers dealt with snow in a very different way. Instead of plowing and salting they packed and skated. To do this they used equipment that is very different than what we have today. To start, they would use huge heavy rollers that were pulled behind horses to compress the snow as tight as they could. To travel on the road they would use sleds instead of wheeled wagons. Once the roads were compacted they would actually last quite a while since it would turn to packed ice.
You might ask why the horses didn't have trouble walking on the ice? They solved this by taking old metal rasps and drill bits, breaking them into very small pieces, and then flux-welding the pieces to the shoes of the horses. Thpse jagged pieces of metal gave the traction the horses needed to pull the sleds. Our new sled will be used during the winter to give rides around the farm and to give the horses another winter work-out on the farm.