Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Montana Trivia

The Beaverslide was invented in Big Hole country.

The beaverslide is a device used to stack loose hay in large piles up to 30 feet high. It was invented in 1910 by a couple of ranchers in the Big Hole Valley. And the people in the Big Hole are proud of it.

(Don't ask me when Wisdom was first settled. They shouldn't have put that fence there.)

Here's a genuine Big Hole beaverslide. Note the skids.

A beaverslide in action:

After a full stack is made, the beaverslide can be dragged to a different location to build another stack. During the winter, ranchers fork hay from the stacks onto a sled and then use the sled to spread the hay for their animals.

Beaverslides were popular until recent decades, when mechanical round balers became more widespread. A few ranchers still use them, but this picture taken in Sula pretty much sums up the fate of the beaverslide:

You can still see active or retired beaverslides all over western Montana. They are most prevalent in the Big Hole, but I have seen them from Dillon to Lincoln.

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